WASHINGTON – President Bush on Wednesday honored 13 people — including the pope, a golf legend and an actress the president called America's "sweetheart" — with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (search).
In the East Room at the White House, Bush and first lady Laura Bush (search) awarded the recipients the highest civilian honor for their accomplishments in culture, politics, science, sports and business.
Arnold Palmer, winner of 92 golf championships, including four Masters, two British Opens and the U.S. Open, seemed to be offering Bush a few golfing tips as he received his medal. Palmer, who played his 50th and final Masters this year at age 74, gripped an imaginary club and chatted with the president on stage.
Bush, quoting broadcaster Vin Scully, said, "In a sport that was high society, Arnold Palmer made it 'High Noon.'"
Actress Doris Day (search), a singer and icon on the American movie screen in the '50s and '60s, wasn't at the ceremony, but Bush said he called her Tuesday to tell her she would be missed.
"Even when Harry Truman lived in the White House, all of America knew the name of the girl who sang 'Sentimental Journey' over the radio," Bush said. "Doris Day is one of the greats, and America will always love its sweetheart."
The award for Walter B. Wriston, former chairman and chief executive of Citibank and chairman of President Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board, was received by his daughter and son-in-law. "He saw the trends of the future, and started a few of his own — first among them, electronic banking," Bush said.
Bush's presented Pope John Paul II with his award three weeks ago at the Vatican. "For nearly 26 years as supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, he has been one of the great voices for the good of the world — guiding the souls of the faithful and sometimes guiding history, itself," Bush said Wednesday.
The medal was presented last December to Robert L. Bartley, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal for three decades. Shortly before Bartley died at age 66, Bush told him on the phone that he had won the award. "Bob Bartley was a man of great intellect and conviction," Bush said.
— Rita Moreno, an actress who was on Broadway by age 13. She is remembered for her Oscar-winning performance in "West Side Story," but has spent years in show business sharing her "incredible talent and style, energy and beauty," Bush said.
— Edward W. Brooke, the first black elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction. A Republican who represented Massachusetts from 1967 to 1979, he was also a state attorney general.
— Vartan Gregorian, scholar and historian, who headed the New York Public Library in the 1980s. A former president of Brown University, he is currently president of the Carnegie Corp. of New York.
— Gilbert M. Grosvenor, chairman of the National Geographic Society, who for decades has promoted exploration, research and geography education.
— Gordon B. Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who has served in church leadership since the 1930s.
— Estee Lauder, the cosmetics pioneer who became a household name in the 1950s on the way to building a Fortune 500 company. She died in April at age 97.
— Arnall Patz, a world-renowned ophthalmologist and researcher of eye disease, whose breakthrough work has helped prevent blindness.
— Norman Podhoretz, neoconservative author and longtime editor of Commentary, the American Jewish Committee magazine.
The Medal of Freedom, established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II, was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service.