“I am deeply humbled and moved by this exceptional honor,” Dr. Miriam Adelson noted Saturday after the White House announced that she would be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the U.S.’s highest civilian honor.
The announcement marks the first time U.S. President Donald Trump will be awarding the honor since he entered office in 2017. The medal will be awarded at the White House on Nov. 16.
Besides Adelson, who is being honored for her work combating addiction and substance abuse, medals are to be awarded to six other recipients, including Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), late musician Elvis Presley and the late baseball legend Babe Ruth.
Upon learning of the honor, Adelson remarked that “85 years ago, my parents, Menucha and Symcha, were young Jews in a Poland, where anti-Semitism was rife and the Holocaust loomed. They yearned for freedom – from persecution and from fear – and they found it in the State of Israel. They raised me to cherish and fight for liberty, a value that Israel continues to exemplify, against the odds, and which the United States, my adopted home, champions all over the world.”
“Liberty is at the heart of my decades of work against substance abuse. Drug dependency is enslavement, for the user and his or her family and society, and treatment an emancipation,” Adelson added. “Together, my husband, Sheldon, and I have dedicated our lives to freedom: to a free market that benefits the greater good and to philanthropic endeavors that succor those suffering from poverty and disease.”
“How proud my parents would be today,” she concluded. “I would like to dedicate this honor to them, to Sheldon and to our children and grandchildren – and to the freedom-loving people of the United States and Israel. Thank you, President Trump, and thank you, America. May the torch of liberty forever burn bright for all to see.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is bestowed upon those 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,” according to the White House.
In a brief biography of Adelson, the White House described her as “a committed doctor, philanthropist and humanitarian,” as well as “a committed member of the American-Jewish community.”
“She has practiced internal and emergency medicine, studied and specialized in the disease of narcotic addiction, and founded two research centers committed to fighting substance abuse,” the White House said in a statement. “With her husband, Sheldon, she also established the Adelson Medical Research Foundation, which supports research to prevent, reduce, or eliminate disabling and life-threatening illness.”
“She has supported Jewish schools, Holocaust memorial organizations, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and Birthright Israel, among other causes,” the statement said.
Adelson was born in Israel. She grew up in the city of Haifa. After completing high school and mandatory military service, she earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and genetics from Hebrew University. She went on to complete her medical degree with honors at Tel Aviv University.
Adelson has founded two treatment and research facilities to combat drug addiction – one in Tel Aviv and one in Las Vegas.
The Adelson family owns the company that is the primary shareholder in Israel Hayom.