Denzel Washington has a list of awards any actor would be proud of, including Oscars, Golden Globes, Tonys and a Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” The New York-native was all set to add the Presidential Medal of Freedom to his impressive list of accomplishments. But Washington was forced to miss this afternoon’s award ceremony after testing positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson for the White House.
The Academy Award-winning actor was one of 17 recipients chosen by the President to be honored this year. Other recipients included Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, civil rights activist Diane Nash and critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay, who was the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor a civilian can receive. It’s usually given to someone who has made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” – that is, except for that one head-scratching moment when Trump gave the award to conservative (and racist) radio host, Rush Limbaugh.
Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, another honoree, paid tribute to WNBA star Brittney Griner at the White House award ceremony. Rapinoe wore a blazer with an embroidered flower and the initials “BG’’ to honor Griner, who has been wrongfully detained in Russia since February.
Even though he couldn’t be present at the ceremony, President Biden made sure to pay tribute to Washington’s accomplishments in his remarks. “There’s a man who couldn’t be here today but wanted to be: Denzel Washington, one of our greatest actors in American history. Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Tony Awards, (and) wide acclaim from audiences and peers around the world,” Biden said. “He couldn’t be here with us today, but I’ll be giving him this award at a later date when he’s able to get here.”