For the last time in office: Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom

In a special ceremony, US President Barack Obama awarded 21 people the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from Ellen DeGeneres and Michael Jordan to leaders in the fields of science and social activity. "These are folks who have helped make me who I am," said Obama.
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For the last time in office, US President Barack Obama awarded last night (Tuesday) the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest form of civilian awards in the US, to 21 people. The ceremony was filled with celebrities and public figures, some of whom were the recipients of the honor. Obama bestowed the honor upon 21 people who contributed to security, world peace and American culture.

Among the recipients were actors Robert De Niro, Robert Redford and Tom Hanks, entertainer Ellen DeGeneres, basketball legends Michael Jordan and Karim Abdul-Jabbar, philanthropists Bill Gates and his wife Melinda and singers Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross.

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Obama and Jordan Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The award was also given to mathematician and software pioneer Margaret Hamilton and posthumously to Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet tribal leader from Montana who led a class-action lawsuit that restored tribal homelands to the Blackfeet Nation and other tribes.

Obama delivered a personal speech, saying: "These are folks who have helped make me who I am and think about my presidency and what also makes them special is, this is America. This is what makes us the greatest nation on earth."

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