updated 11/3/2005 10:30:47 PM ET 2005-11-04T03:30:47

President Bush on Thursday announced the recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award.

Those to be honored at a White House ceremony this coming Wednesday are:

  • Muhammad Ali. The three-time heavyweight boxing champion successfully defended the title 19 times and was a gold medalist at the 1960 Olympic Games.
  • Carol Burnett. The actress and comedian debuted on Broadway in 1959 and starred for more than a decade on “The Carol Burnett Show.”
  • Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn. They designed the software code used to transmit data over the Internet.
  • Robert Conquest. The historian is known for his work on Soviet history, politics, and foreign policy. More than 35 years after its publication, his book, “The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties,” remains one of the most influential studies of Soviet history.
  • Aretha Franklin. The singer has nearly two dozen No. 1 singles and has won numerous awards. Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Alan Greenspan. He has been chairman of the Federal Reserve for the past 18 years.
  • Andy Griffith. The actor first achieved national acclaim in the 1950s for his standup comedy routines. He went on to star in television shows such as “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock” and numerous Broadway productions and films.
  • Paul Harvey. The radio personality’s broadcasts started airing nationally in 1951.
  • Sonny Montgomery. A veterans’ supporter during his 30 years as a member of the House of Representatives. The Montgomery GI Bill helped make education affordable for millions of veterans.
  • Gen. Richard Myers. He recently retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Jack Nicklaus. The golfer won 18 major tournament as professional as well as won more than 70 PGA Tour events.
  • Frank Robinson. The current manager of the Washington Nationals, Robinson won most valuable player awards in both the American and National leagues. He broke the color barrier for managers, becoming the first black manager in Major League Baseball in 1975.
  • Paul Rusesabagina. The hotelier’s life was the subject of the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” which depicted his courage and compassion in sheltering people at the hotel he managed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The Medal of Freedom was established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II. The award was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service.

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