Long-time resident of Montclair and friend to Montclair State University Yogi Berra was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor possible for Americans.
The official website of the White House states that the Medal of Freedom “is 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.”
The 17 recipients of this year’s medal were announced today, though the official award ceremony honoring these individuals will take place on Nov. 24 at the White House.
Berra, who died on Sept. 22, was famous for his career as a catcher, manager and coach in professional baseball. He was also a World War II veteran, serving in the Navy, and took part in the D-Day attacks.
The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center responded to Berra’s most recent accolade with words of thanks to friends and fans of the former Yankee and to President Barack Obama, who selects the recipients each year.
“Yogi received this highest of civilian honors in recognition for his military, civil rights and educational activism,” the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center said in a press release regarding the award. “We are proud and honored that his ideals will continue to influence future generations through the educational services and character curriculum of his beloved museum and learning center.”
— Yogi Berra Museum (@Yogi_Museum) November 16, 2015
Berra’s granddaughter, Lindsay Berra, who spoke at many events honoring her grandfather after his passing, shared this tweet about Berra winning the Medal of Freedom:
— Lindsay Berra (@lindsayberra) November 16, 2015
In his statement about the 2015 recipients, Obama referenced Berra and other athlete recipients, saying, “From leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.”
Montclair State University is also celebrating this national recognition of Berra’s life-long achievement. Assistant Professor Sports Media and Journalism Kelly Whiteside commended the hard work that Berra’s family and the Yogi Berra Museum put into his reception of the Medal. “It’s wonderful news and so well-deserved,” she said. “It’s bittersweet that he wasn’t around to accept it in person.”