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Former New Richmond attorney set to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

John Doar in a celebrated photograph from the Civil Rights era. He helped to calm crowds in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars in 1963.

A New Richmond native is among a list of 13 recipients who will soon receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

In a press release from the White House on April 26, John Doar along with other notable American heros (including Bob Dylan, Madeleine Albright, Toni Morrison and John Glenn) were announced as this year's honorees.

The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other specific public or private endeavors.

The awards are scheduled to be presented at the White House in the late spring.

"These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation," President Obama said. "They've challenged us, they've inspired us, and they've made the world a better place. I look forward to recognizing them with this award."

Doar was a leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s. He served as assistant attorney general in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. In that capacity, he was instrumental during many major civil rights crises, including singlehandedly preventing a riot in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars in 1963.

Doar brought notable civil rights cases, including obtaining convictions for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and leading the effort to enforce the right to vote and implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He later served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as it investigated the Watergate scandal and considered articles of impeachment against President Nixon.

Doar continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.

Among the other honorees will be:

Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under President William J. Clinton, was the first woman to hold that position.

A Minnesota native, Bob Dylan is one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century. Dylan released his first album in 1962 and he's had an impact on the country's culture ever since.

William Foege, a physician and epidemiologist, helped lead the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.

John Glenn is a former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and United States senator. In 1962, he was the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn has also been a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Gordon Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he refused the order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory. Consequently, he was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle of defying the exclusion order and violating curfew. In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Hirabayashi died on Jan. 2, 2012.

Dolores Huerta is a civil rights, workers and women's advocate. With Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.

Jan Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world.

Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912. The organization strives to teach girls self-reliance and resourcefulness. This year, the Girl Scouts celebrate their 100th Anniversary, calling 2012 "The Year of the Girl."

Toni Morrison is one of the nation's most celebrated novelists. She is renowned for works such as "Song of Solomon," "Jazz," and "Beloved," for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988. When she became the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1993.

Shimon Peres is an ardent advocate for Israel's security and for peace. Shimon Peres was elected the ninth president of Israel in 2007. First elected to the Knesset in 1959, he has served in a variety of positions throughout the Israeli government.

John Paul Stevens served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010, when he retired as the third longest-serving justice in the court's history.

Pat Summitt has had an outstanding career as the all-time winningest leader among all NCAA basketball coaches. Summitt has taken the University of Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball. Off the court, she has been a spokesperson against Alzheimer's disease.

For a complete story, see next week's New Richmond News.