Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Glen Oaks who was the first person in the country to get the Covid-19 vaccine, will receive the Medal of Freedom from President Biden today, July 7.
It is the highest civilian honor that is bestowed by the United States government.
Lindsay joins a distinguished list of 16 others including two-time Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington; the late U.S. Senator, Republican presidential candidate and Vietnam War hero John McCain; Olympic and world champion gymnast Simone Biles; and the late Apple, Inc. founder Steve Jobs.
“These 17 Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation — hard work, perseverance and faith,” the White House said on its website.
“They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities — and across the world — while blazing trails for generations to come.”
Lindsay, who worked in the trenches for months as Covid devastated entire neighborhoods in Queens, got her shot on Dec. 14, 2020. The Jamaican immigrant also was honored by Biden in July 2021 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Outstanding Americans by Choice award.
Other recipients include:
• Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun with the Sisters of Social Service;
• Julieta Garcia, former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville and the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president;
• former U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head in 2011 by a gunman who killed six people and wounded 12 others; Giffords founded an organization working to end gun violence;
• Fred Gray, one of the first Black members of the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction and a lawyer who represented Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.;
• the Rev. Alexander Karloutsos, former vicar general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America;
• Khizr Khanis, a Gold Star military father who has served on Biden’s U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom;
• Diane Nash, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee;
• Megan Rapinoe, an Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion in women’s soccer and a prominent advocate for gender pay equality and LGBTQIA+ rights;
• former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), a champion of campaign finance reform and marriage equality;
• the late Richard Trumka, former president of the AFL-CIO and United Mine Workers;
• retired Air Force Brigadier General Wilma Vaught; and
• Raul Yzaguirre, a civil rights activist and former U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Barack Obama.