WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Holocaust survivor who teaches children the value of citizenship is among those who will be honored by President Obama with a Medal of Freedom.
Gerda Weissman Klein, who survived the notorious death march at the end of the war, designed by Nazis to keep Jews from being rescued, recently founded Citizenship Counts, "an organization that teaches students to cherish the value of their American citizenship," the White House said in a statement Wednesday.
"Klein has spoken to audiences of all ages and faith around the world about the value of freedom and has dedicated her life to promoting tolerance and understanding among all people," it said.
The Medal of Freedom is the highest U.S. civilian honor, "presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Among the other recipients, who will receive the medals in a ceremony early next year, are President George H. W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, poet Maya Angelou, artist Jasper Johns, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, baseball giant Stan Musial and Tom Little, an optometrist murdered by the Taliban while he was on a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan.