Alabama Author Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Alabama author Harper Lee was one of eight people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday at the White House.  During a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President Bush praised each recipient for work that has quote "earned the respect of the American people."

Alabama native Harper Lee, the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" which dealt with race relations in the south, won her a Pulitzer prize. "To Kill a Mockingbird has influenced the character of our country, for the better. " says President Bush.  "It's been a gift to the entire world."

Doctor Benjamin Hooks was awarded the medal for his work in civil rights. Brian Lamb from C-SPAN was honored for helping give Americans a front row seat to the workings of the government.   Others awarded the Medal of Freedom on Monday, Gary Becker for his work in economics and social science, Francis Collins for his work in genetic research, and the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sir leaf. Former Congressman Henry Hyde was awarded the medal, but he's recovering from surgery and was unable to attend. His son Bob stood in for him. Cuban political prisoner Oscar Elias Biscet was awarded the Medal of Freedom too. He's being held in a Cuban prison. His daughter and step-son accepted the award for him.

The Medal of Freedom was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II.  President John F. Kennedy reinstated  the Presidential Medal of Freedom back in 1963  to honor people who have made a special contribution to the United States, to the world or public or private endeavors.