The White House today announced the 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year, and it is some rarefied company.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the country for “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.”
Among the bigger stars being honored are musician Bruce Springsteen, actors Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford and Cicely Tyson, SNL creator Lorne Michaels, basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, and Bill and Melinda Gates.
Other honorees include: the late Elouise Cobell, who was an advocate for Native American rights; Richard Garwin, the physicist who designed the first hydrogen bomb; architect Frank Gehry; trailblazing computer scientists Margaret Hamilton and the late Grace Hopper; Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.; former FCC chairman Newt Minow, who paved the way for nonprofit educational television stations; longtime President of Miami Dade College Eduardo Padrón; and beloved baseball announcer Vin Scully.
President Barack Obama said of the recipients:
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor—it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.
The award ceremony will be on Nov. 22 at The White House—watch it live via WhiteHouse.gov here. Enjoy it while you can; next year, the only person getting an award is Scott Baio.