For one final time, President Barack Obama will present Presidential Medal of Freedom honors at the White House on Tuesday. The 2016 event will be a star-studded affair with the selection of 21 people, including Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, and Cicely Tyson.
In making his selections for this year, Obama says, “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.”
De Niro and Hanks are double Oscar winners for acting, while Redford won his Academy Award for directing. Tyson is a Tony and Emmy champ. Ross (from the Supremes) and Springsteen (with his E Street Band) are both Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members. All have also been recipients at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. in the past decade.
Others being honored on Tuesday are: basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Native American community leader Elouise Cobell (posthumous), actress and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, polymath physicist Richard Garwin, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, architect Frank Gehry, NASA computer scientist Margaret H. Hamilton, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (posthumous), basketball legend Michael Jordan, artist and designer Maya Lin, “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels, attorney Newt Minow, college president Eduardo Padron, and baseball broadcaster Vin Scully.
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