UPDATED to include video.

President George W. Bush is giving our nation’s highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom, to three foreign leaders: former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Austrailian Prime Minister John Howard, and president of Columbia, Alvaro Uribe. They have been among his most loyal allies, particularly in the War on Terror. Read more about the Presidential Medal of Freedom below, see photos of noteable recipients, and watch a video of the ceremony.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Bush is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tony Blair, John Howard and President Uribe in an East Room ceremony on January 13th which is one week before he leaves office.

“The president is honoring these leaders for their work to improve the lives of their citizens and for their efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad,” White House Spokesperson Dana Perino said. “All three leaders have been staunch allies of the United States, particularly in combating terrorism.”

A spokesperson for Tony Blair said that it was a ‘great honor’ and added:

“The award of this medal reflects the true courage of the men and women of the Armed Forces who, through their service and sacrifice have helped to safeguard freedom, democracy and human rights around the globe.?

Tony Blair and John Howard were our closest allies, at great political cost, in the U.S. led invasion of Iraq in 2003, while President Uribe remains one of our most constant friends in Latin America. They are all more then deserving of this great medal.

The Medal of Freedom

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a decoration bestowed by the President of the United States and is, along with the equivalent Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of Congress, the highest civilian award in the United States. It is designed to recognize individuals who have made:

“an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

It was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to honor service during World War II. President John F. Kennedy revived the medal in 1963 and expanded its purpose.

The medal is awarded annually, on or near the Fourth of July, and at other times as chosen by the President. Recipients are selected by the President, either on his or her initiative or based on recommendations.

You can read a complete list of recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by visiting their website.

Medal of Freedom Recipient Bob HopeMedal of Freedom Recipient Gerald FordPresidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Ronald ReaganMedal of Freedom Recipient John KennedyMedal of Freedom Recipient Mother TeresaMedal of Freedom Recipient Pope John Paul II
Notable Recipients of the Medal of Freedom Photos

Medal of Freedom: Tony Blair, John Howard, Alvaro Uribe Video