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Three Northwesterners Honored With Presidential Medal Of Freedom

White House
William Ruckelshaus stands next to President Obama during the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House.

Three Northwesterners were among those honored at the White House Tuesday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

President Barack Obama spoke briefly about each of the winners during a ceremony in the East Room. They include civil rights activist Minoru Yasui from Hood River, Oregon.

Yasui, who passed away in 1986, was arrested in Portland during World War II for defying the curfew against Japanese-Americans. The President said Yasui's case resonates more than 70 years later.

"Today, Min's legacy has never been more important,” President Obama said. “It is a call to our national conscience, a reminder of our enduring obligation to be the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Another Northwest winner was William Ruckelshaus of Seattle. He's best known as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The President also honored Billy Frank, Junior. The tribal fishing rights activist from Nisqually, Washington, passed away last year.