The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award a person can receive. Barack Obama handed out this award in 2016 to 21 people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
These included many beloved entertainers, including Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen and Ellen Degeneres. Check out Ellen receiving her award if you want a deeply meaningful, life-affirming tearkjerker.
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Inspiring words, indeed. If you or someone you love is fighting against something tough, just remember Dory's uplifting mantra: Just keep swimming.
Other notable figures awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016:
- Michael Jordan — basketball legend
- Lorne Michaels — creator of SNL and winner of 13 Emmy awards
- Cicely Tyson — Emmy and Tony award winning actor
- Bill & Melinda Gates — awarded over $36 billion in funds for good causes
- Richard Garwin — physicist, inventor, presidential advisor
- Margaret Hamilton - mathematician, computer scientist, software engineer and NASA technological pioneer
- Vin Scully — sports broadcaster for 67 seasons
- Maya Lin — artist, designer, environmentalist
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — all-time highest scorer for the NBA, social justice advocate
- Newt Minow — army vet, attorney, chairperson of FCC
- Eduardo J. Padrón — advocate for equality and access to education
- Frank Gehry — architect of some of the world's most iconic buildings
- Elouise Cobell — Native American rights advocate (awarded posthumously)
- Rear Admiral Grace Hopper — veteran and pioneering computer scientist (awarded posthumously)
Congratulations to all of these amazing people. Who would you like to see receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom next year?
Which movie did you like better?