Megan Rapinoe to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
President Joe Biden announced on Friday that American professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House next Thursday.
Rapinoe is the captain of the Reign, a two-time World Cup champion, and an Olympic gold medalist for the United States women’s team. She has been a steadfast supporter of racial justice, LGBTQIA rights, and gender pay equity. Additionally, Rapinoe is a graduate of the University of Portland and a former Portland Pilots player.
In 2005, as a freshman, Rapinoe helped the Pilots to an undefeated season and the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” the White House news release said.
Rapinoe was having lunch with her teammates between a weight-lifting session and an on-field practice at the Denver Broncos Training Center on June 23 when her phone rang, according to a statement from U.S. Soccer. The screen flashed: “The White House.”
Rapinoe, immediately thinking it was robocall or that maybe she was being pranked by her teammates, showed the phone screen to teammate Kelley O’Hara, who said, “you probably need to pick that up.”
She picked up. “Is this Megan Rapinoe,” said the voice on the other end of the line.
“Uh, yeah,” replied Rapinoe.
“Please hold for the President of the United States,” said the White House Operator.
Then onto the line came President Joe Biden who told her he had chosen her to receive the highest civilian honor in the United States.
“In that moment I spoke to the President, I was, and still am, totally overwhelmed,” said Rapinoe. “I just think of all the people who I feel deserve a part of this medal, from my family to current and former teammates, all the women of the U.S. Women’s National Team throughout our history, to Colin Kaepernick, the three woman who founded Black Lives Matter – Opal, Alicia and Patrisse – to Marsha P, Sylvia and Billie Jean, the Williams sisters, of course my fiancé Sue Bird, and so many more. I am humbled and truly honored to be chosen for this award by President Biden and feel as inspired and motivated as ever to continue this long history of fighting for the freedoms of all people. To quote Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’”
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