17 People Honored with Medal of Freedom by Obama at the White House

On Tuesday, November 17, NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson was among 17 people who represented excellence in different fields this year. All were invited to the White House. Those people were selected as overall winners to receive trophies from President Obama for their immense contribution that has left an indelible mark on the history of America.

Among those who have received the Medal of Freedom include filmmaker Steven Spielberg, singer-actress Barbra Streisand and baseball player Yogi Berra, who is now deceased. These members were given what is termed as the highest civilian honor in America at a ceremony organized by the White House.

Obama said to the honorees, “We are just reminded when we see these individuals here on the stage what an incredible tapestry this country is.” The president added that America is blessed. “What a great blessing to be in a nation, where individuals as diverse, from as wildly different backgrounds, can help to shape our dreams. How we live together help define justice, and freedom and love. They represent what’s best in us, and we are very, very proud to be able to celebrate them here today.”

Those who made an impact on the lives of American people without garnering great fame were also honored. Among them was, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors founder Bonnie Carroll, who started the program after her husband’s death in a military plane crash in 1992.

Obama also recognized and honored Barbara A. Mikulski from Maryland. Mikulski was recognized because she is the longest serving woman in the Congress. The first African-American woman to be elected to the Congress, Ms. Shirley Chisholm was also honored.

Speaking of her courage, the President praised Shirley saying, “Shirley Chisholm’s example transcends her life.” She was asked how she would like to be remembered, and she answered, ‘ I’d like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts.’ And I’m proud to say it: Shirley Chisholm had guts.”

Others who were honored on Wednesday included Billy Frank Jr., who died in 2014 at the age of 83. He was one of the Native Americans who devoted their lives to defending the rights of Native Americans. Emilio Estefan and Gloria Estefan, both received a medal for their contribution in breaking cultural boundaries and elevating accomplishments of Latin Americans. Itzhak Perlman was honored as one of the greatest violinists America has ever had.

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