weather icon Clear

Miriam Adelson, Elvis among Medal of Freedom recipients

Updated November 10, 2018 - 10:26 pm

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday announced his first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and two of the honorees have Las Vegas connections: local physician and philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson and the late musical legend Elvis Presley.

The nation’s highest civilian honor also will be given to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is retiring after more than 41 years in the U.S. Senate; former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach; and Alan Page, who served on the Minnesota Supreme Court after a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. Trump will also posthumously recognize the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the late baseball legend Babe Ruth in a Friday ceremony.

Adelson will receive the medal in recognition of her work as a philanthropist, humanitarian and doctor specializing in the treatment of narcotic addiction, according to the White House. She also was lauded, along with her husband, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, for supporting Holocaust memorial organizations, Jewish schools, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces and Birthright Israel, which has sent some 600,000 young Jews from around the world to visit Israel.

“I am deeply humbled and moved by this exceptional honor,” Dr. Adelson said in a statement that recalled her parents’ journey as young Jews who, as the Holocaust loomed, fled Poland for Israel, where she was born.

“Liberty is at the heart of my decades of work against substance abuse,” she said. “Drug dependency is enslavement, for the user and his or her family and society, and treatment an emancipation.”

The Adelsons, who own the Las Vegas Review-Journal, have donated millions of dollars to Trump and the Republican Party. The Center for Responsive Politics lists the Adelsons as the nation’s largest contributors to independent expenditure organizations in the 2018 election cycle.

The Adelsons’ political contributions triggered criticism on social media that the donations influenced Trump’s decision to bestow the accolade, but Trump is not the only president to face criticism for his selection of Medal of Freedom recipients.

President Barack Obama presented the medal, which recognizes “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States,” to, among others, his vice president, Joe Biden; former President Bill Clinton; top Hollywood Democratic donors and fundraisers including Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres; billionaire donor, fundraiser and political supporter Warren Buffett; and rock star Bruce Springsteen, who has performed at many Democratic fundraisers.

Presley is a music and movie legend who ended his career as a Las Vegas headliner before his death in 1977. His legacy and likeness remain linked to the city through impersonators and tribute acts.

Hatch represented Utah for more than 41 years as one of the longest serving senators in U.S. history. He is currently the Senate’s president pro tempore and the Senate Finance committee chairman.

Page played for the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears during a 15-year NFL career, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. After his NFL career, Page went on to become a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court for more than 20 years.

Ruth remains an iconic baseball star after playing for three teams between 1914 and 1935. He set numerous records and led the New York Yankees to four World Series championships.

After an unanimous confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986, Scalia remained an important member of the court until his death on February 13, 2016. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, the conservative justice was known for his strict constitutional interpretation and authored nearly 900 Supreme Court opinions.

Staubach played for 11 seasons in the NFL and twice won the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys. He was a Vietnam War veteran and worked with many charitable organizations after his football career, including the United Way of America, the Children’s Scholarship Fund and Allies in Service.

Trump was in Paris on Saturday celebrating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and provided no additional comment.

Christopher J. Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court justice, tweeted, “Very proud that my father will receive the Medal of Freedom. That he’s getting it with Elvis is icing on the cake.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Trump keeps up criticism toward federal reserve chairman

The president said of Jerome Powell, “Here’s a guy nobody ever heard of him before and now, I made him and he wants to show how tough he is.”

Infighting prompts NRA’s top lobbyist to resign

The National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist resigned Wednesday, the latest development in a dizzying array of in-fighting within the gun lobbying group in recent months that has ensnared even its most ardent loyalists.

Kremlin confirms Trump-Putin ‘sidelines’ meeting at G-20

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of an international summit in Japan, the Kremlin said Wednesday, in talks that come amid bitter differences.

$4.6B border aid measure set for Senate approval

The GOP-held Senate is poised to pass a bipartisan $4.6 billion measure to deliver aid to the southern border to care for migrant families and children.

Justice Department sues Omarosa over financial disclosure

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against former White House staffer and reality TV star Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging she failed to file a legally required financial disclosure after she was fired from her job in the Trump administration.