Local heroes among those awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Joe Biden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 new recipients on Thursday, including some local heroes from the NYC area.

The medal is the nation’s highest honor bestowed upon any civilian. 

Sandra Lindsay, the Long Island Northwell nurse who stepped up as the first American outside of clinical trials to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and Father Alex Karloutsos, who works as a liaison with heads of churches and the White House - were two local recipients awarded.

"You think of family and the great honor that the president has bestowed upon me and my church," said Father Alex.  

The medal is presented to people who have made "exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors."

"I couldn’t sleep last night," Lindsay said. 

Academy award winner and Mt. Vernon native Denzel Washington is among this year’s 17 recipients as well as Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, soccer pro and LGBTQ advocate Megan Rapinoe and civil rights attorney, Fred Gray, who represented Rosa Parks, the Tuskegee vaccination victims, and  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Awards were also given posthumously to Sen. John McCain and Steve Jobs. 

Lindsay and Father Alex told FOX 5 NY that they were humbled by the honor and couldn’t be more proud to live in the United States - placing the emphasis on the word United.