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President Obama Awards Medal of Freedom To 21 Shining Stars

Time is running out in the eight-year long run of current President of the United States, Barack Obama. And what a better way to end his legacy than by awarding twenty-one Americans with the President’s Medal of Freedom? Last night, Obama gave this shining honor to some of the most prolific faces in the country. Most of these faces are well-known celebrities, but they are stars who shine bright like a diamond, as Rihanna would say.

On the winners, President Obama said: “So, just on a personal note, part of the reason why these events are so special to me is because everybody on this stage has touched me in a powerful, personal way, in ways that they probably couldn’t imagine.”

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Singer Bruce Springsteen receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2016

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The main reason these stars were hand-picked selections by the President was because they used their gifts to bring a positive change to the world. From fighting for equal rights for the LTBTQ community, to Muslims to Native Americans, they went over and above their stardom. Truly, they are pioneers in their fields. The President dotted the ceremony with jibes and jokes, though there were tears as well, especially from comedienne, Ellen DeGeneres.

Here is the list of recipients of the President’s Medal of Freedom for 2016:

  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Tom Hanks
  • Robert DeNiro
  • Cicely Tyson
  • Robert Redford
  • Lorne Michaels
  • Diana Ross
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Michael Jordan
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Vin Scully
  • Richard Garwin
  • Elouise Cobell (posthumous)
  • Bill and Melinda Gates
  • Margaret H Hamilton
  • Grace Hopper (posthumous)
  • Maya Lin
  • Newt Minow
  • Eduardo Padrón

If you haven’t heard of some of these names, check out their achievements – professional and social. It really is worth a read to be inspired by people who make this world a better place and a little more tolerable.

As mentioned earlier, the President made his usual light-hearted jokes. When it came to basketball legend, Michael Jordan, he casually mentioned him as the “renowned character actors like the guy from Space Jam“. He also praised Microsoft founder, Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars for healthcare and other social services around the world. He was amused that the two have stayed together for so long, despite the beginning of their long-term relationship starting with Bill’s line to Melinda: “Do you want to go out two weeks from this coming Saturday?” For DiNero, he said: “the guy who plays a mobster who runs a casino, mobster who needs therapy, a father-in-law who’s scarier than a mobster and Al-Capone – a mobster”. Well, Mr. President, you have been watching too many movies!

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Ellen DeGeneres receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2016

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But when it came to comedienne and host of the super popular The Ellen Show, Ellen DeGeneres, there were emotions all around, including from the awardee and the awarder. He said: “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”. This is in reference to Ellen’s public announcement that she is a lesbian, at a time when her career was at stake. He went on: “What an incredible burden that was to bear – to risk your career like that – people don’t do that very often. And then, to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders. But it’s like Ellen says, ‘we all want a tortilla chip that can support the weight of guacamole’. Which really makes no sense to me.” And then he went on to quote Ellen’s character in Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, forgetful fish, Dory: Just keep swimming.