Just two days before the nation marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, President Obama awarded 16 individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award established by the late president just before his death.
President Obama called the recipients one-by-one, draping the medal over their necks and describing each recipient’s extraordinary accomplishments to the nation.
Calling the ceremony “one of my favorite events every year,” President Barack Obama said at the White House that this year “is a just a little more special because this marks the 50th anniversary that President Kennedy established this award.”
Other recipients included country music legend Loretta Lynn, former Indiana senator Dick Lugar, American astronaut Sally Ride (posthumous), feminist author Gloria Steinem and baseball legend Ernie Banks.
According to NBC:
The Presidential Medal of Freedom – established by executive order in 1963 – is awarded to people who have made “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” In its half-century, the medal has been awarded to more than 500 individuals.
We send our congratulations to those awarded. For a full list of the recipients of last night’s award, click here.