Barack Obama’s eight-year presidential term will soon be coming to an end and he will give the White House and the title as president of the United States over to Donald Trump. With a little over a month before Trump’s inauguration, on Tuesday November 22, Obama gave out 21 Presidential Medals of Freedom; one to a very well known and admirable star, #Ellen DeGeneres.
What is the Medal of Freedom?
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award that can be granted by the president. It first began in 1945 by former president, Harry Truman. As described by the the White House website, the award is granted to people who have greatly contributed "to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Ellen Degeneres’ award
Ellen, a stand-up comic, actor, and TV star who hosts her own talk show, has been a world-renounced positive influence. She has been a significant figure for the LGBTQ community as she came out to the world as gay in 1997. Tuesday night she was awarded one of the highest honors that the President can give, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.
At the ceremony, Obama began Ellen's honor speech by saying, “It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far, where now, marriage is equal under the law. Just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stage almost twenty years ago. Just how important it was, not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light.” He then went on, “What an incredible burden it was to bear, to risk your career like that. People don’t do that very often. And then to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders."
At this point in his speech, Obama began to choke up and made a joke to hinder him from getting teary-eyed, although Ellen was already full of tears. He finished with acknowledging how, “Ellen counters what too often divides us. With the countless things that bind us together, and inspires us to be better people, one joke, one dance at a time."
Among her, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jordan, Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Hanks, and fifteen others were also awarded the honor. Obama has now set the record for giving the most Presidential Medals of Freedom by any president.