For the final time in his presidency, Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, to 21 recipients at the White House on Tuesday.
Honorees included entertainers Tom Hanks and Diana Ross, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, architect Frank Gehry, scientist Margaret Hamilton, and athletes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and (a crying) Michael Jordan, whom Obama noted “was more than just an internet meme.”
The honor is awarded to individuals who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” the White House said in a statement earlier this month in announcing the nominees.
Michael Jordan, at 53, was this year’s youngest medal recipient, while actress Cicely Tyson, at 91, was the oldest. All the recipients at the ceremony found time to oblige a request from Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana, to pose for the Mannequin Challenge.