*Go ahead. Take a good look ‘caise you won’t see this again. Ever. On Tuesday, for the last time, President Obama bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on a distinguished array of American icons. Twenty one in all.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented 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 awards will be presented at the White House on November 22nd.
“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,” said President Obama. “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 historic and star-studded event happened at the White House and it was filled with luminaries from a broad range of fields spanning the arts, sports, philanthropy, education, science and mathematics.
You might not be surprised to learn that the affair had a lot of laugh-filled moments as well. One of those moments was when POTUS, who stands at 6 feet 1 inch tall, craned to place a medal around the neck of basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is more than a foot taller.
The president warned the gathering never to travel with award winning actor, Tom Hanks.
“You’ve got pirates, plane crashes, marooned in airport purgatory, volcanoes…something always happens with Tom Hanks,” the president said. “And yet somehow we can’t resist going where he wants to take us.”
The medal, which has existed in some form since the Truman administration, has been given at Obama’s discretion more than any other president, and according to the Washington Post, he has honored women and people of color at a rate higher than any of his predecessors.
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