President Barack Obama awarded Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Jordan and others Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House. Obama handed out 21 medals at the event with attracted people from all walks of life. Bill and Melinda Gates were awarded through their philanthropic foundation. While posthumous honours went to Native American advocate Elouise Cobell and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.
President Obama praised Ellen for championing the gay rights movement and pushing America in “the direction of justice”. He noted that Ellen risked her career 20 years ago and did pay a price for that “even in Hollywood”. Ellen was emotional through out the award ceremony.
Ellen wasn’t the only receipt lauded by Obama. He said all of them “helped make me who I am”. Obama who is in the final days of his presidency told the audience “Everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, personal way, in ways that they probably couldn’t imagine.”
Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honour. Other honourees at the event include: Tom Hanks, Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, Cicely Tyson, Diana Ross, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vin Scully, Richard Garwin, Frank Gehry, Margaret H Hamilton, Maya Lin, Lorne Michaels, Newton Minow and Eduardo Padron.