Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2018, file photo, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, gestures to the Utah House during a visit at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Utah's primary election Tuesday, June 26, 2018, will give former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney a second chance to dispatch of state lawmaker Mike Kennedy who defeated him at the party convention in his bid to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will receive the highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom — in a ceremony Friday at the White House.

President Donald Trump announced Saturday his first recipients of the prestigious award, recognizing the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history.

The White House press release lauded Hatch for his more than 41 years of service to Utah and his role as the Senate's president pro tempore and as chairman of the finance committee.

Trump noted that Hatch has sponsored more bills that have become law than any other living member of Congress.

"He has led the way in confirming qualified judges throughout the federal judiciary in order to protect our constitutional order, and has championed religious liberty, fought against communism, and stood on the side of freedom around the world," the release states.

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This prestigious award is the nation’s highest civilian honor, which may be awarded by the president to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," the White House statement says.

The other six honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Friday will be music icon Elvis Presley; baseball legend Babe Ruth; the late Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia; former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach; Alan Page, who began a legal career after leaving the NFL; and Miriam Adelson, a doctor, philanthropist and wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.