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President Awards Medals of Freedom

Bob Dylan, John Glenn, and Pat Summitt among the recipients receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Medal of Freedom Awards

WASHINGTON D.C. (WENY) -- They’re some of the most respected people in the world.  On Tuesday, President Obama handed out 13 coveted awards in the East Room of the White House.

The president presented the Medal of Freedom to men and women he calls his “personal heroes” --  basketball coach Pat Summitt, astronaut John Glenn, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and rock star Bob Dylan.

“Everybody on this stage has marked my life in profound ways,” said President Obama.

The president told a packed room at the White House that one of the things that makes the medal of freedom so special is the fact that nobody actually sets out to win it.

“Nobody ever picks up a guitar or fights a disease or starts a movement thinking, ‘You know what, if I keep this up in 2012, I could get a medal in the White House from a guy named Barack Obama,’” joked the president.

The president said the impact these honorees have had on American culture will continue for years to come.

“Together, the honorees on this stage and the ones who couldn’t be here have moved us with their words, they have inspired us with their actions, and enriched our lives, and changed our lives for the better,” he said.

The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor.   Other recipients include former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, civil rights leader John Doar, and writer Toni Morrison.