Post50 favorites singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, author Toni Morrison, and Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, were among the 13 honorees President Obama presented with America's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Others to receive the award included John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth; Pat Summit, the legendary coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team, known for her public battle with early-onset dementia; and retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, whose majority and dissenting opinions will be remembered in a number of watershed Court cases of the last 10-15 years.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was created by President Harry S. Truman in 1945, primarily as a way of honoring non-American allies from World War II. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy made bestowing the Medal of Freedom a presidential privilege; it has since become a a way to extend a hand across the aisle, reward luminaries within their own party or honor those Americans they find personally inspiring.
Check out the video above for highlights from the Medal of Freedom ceremony.