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Dear President Obama,
Today I am writing to you to strongly recommend that Yogi Berra be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mr. Berra is strongly respected within the world of baseball, and throughout the United States of America at large, for his values, his accomplishments, and his courage.
Mr. Berra enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War Il and served during the D-Day invasion, and continues to this day to advocate for the U.S. Armed Forces. After serving our country proudly, Mr. Berra joined Major League Baseball (MLB) and played for the New York Yankees for 19 years. He is regarded as one of the best catchers in MLB history, but also known far and wide for his relentless commitment to diversity, inclusion, and education.
Early on in his baseball career, Mr. Berra served as a leader in MLB inclusion, befriending the first Black and Latino players in the league. During his successful tenure with the Yankees, Mr. Berra created a scholarship program at Columbia University, and his namesake, the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center serves more than 20,000 students each year by teaching values of respect, inclusion, and embodying good sporting behavior.
As the Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally, an organization dedicated to eliminating homophobia and transphobia in sports, my colleagues and I were elated when Mr. Berra joined our organization as a supporter and ambassador in 2013. Mr. Berra brings his strong voice for inclusion to our work for equality.
Under Mr. Berra’s leadership, Athlete Ally collaborated with the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the innovative “Championing Respect” museum exhibit, which charts how sports has contributed to social change, from Jackie Robinson to Billie Jean King to today’s athletes working for LGBT equality.
As Mr. Berra says: “Respect the game, respect others. That’s what I always learned in sports. Treat everyone the same. That’s how it should be.”
I couldn’t agree more. I believe Mr. Berra truly embodies what it means to be a hero, what it means to be courage, and what it means to do the right thing -- regardless of whether or not it is the popular thing to do at the time.
It would be an honor to Mr. Berra, to his family, his friends, and his extended family of Americans working for inclusion in sports and beyond, for the Presidential Medal of Freedom to be awarded.
I wholeheartedly recommend Yogi Berra for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Founder and Executive Director