Celebrities

PHOTOS: President Obama Awards His Last Presidential Medal of Freedom To 21 Recipients

This is the last time U.S. President Barack Obama will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom as his eight years in office comes to an end in January. President Obama presented the award to 21 actors, musicians, athletes and innovators who he said inspired him over the years and “helped make me who I am” during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC.

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.

Check out more photos from the event below…

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Mr Obama heaped praise on DeGeneres, saying it was easy to forget that she had risked her career in 1997 when she came out as gay. “It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far … just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago,”

U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to XXX during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to 19 living and two posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and the arts.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former NBA star Michael Jordan during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor for civilians in the United States of America.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Basketballers Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were also among the honourees. Mr Obama noted how Jordan’s name is synonymous with excellence.

“There is a reason you call somebody ‘the Michael Jordan of’,” Mr Obama said.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to actor Robert De Niro during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor for civilians in the United States of America.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to actor Robert De Niro.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Robert Redford during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor for civilians in the United States of America. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Robert Redford.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to actress Cicely Tyson during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor for civilians in the United States of America.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to actress Cicely Tyson.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Academy Award winner, filmmaker and social justice advocate Tom Hanks during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to 19 living and two posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and the arts.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Academy Award winner, filmmaker and social justice advocate Tom Hanks.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama awards Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom by during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to 19 living and two posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and the arts.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama awards Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom by during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to 19 living and two posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and the arts.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Diana Ross during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor for civilians in the United States of America.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Diana Ross.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to musician Bruce Springsteen during an East Room ceremony at the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor for civilians in the United States of America.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross were recognised for their music.

Mr Obama said Springsteen crafted “anthems of our America, the reality of who we are and the reverie of who we want to be”.

 

(Photos by Chip Somodevilla and Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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