“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,” Obama said in his remarks.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our highest civilian honour. It’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have an opportunity to change this country for the better,” Obama added.
Others receiving the award included philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, mathematician and computer scientist Margaret H. Hamilton and actors such as Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the US and is (along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal) the highest civilian award bestowed by the US.