Presidential Medal Of Freedom Recipients (PHOTOS)

President Obama handed out the Presidential Medals of Freedom today, one of the highest civillian awards in the United States.

The award, which is presented each year to new recipients, is the highest award in the land, about as prestigious as the Congressional Gold Medal. Tracing its roots President Truman (it was used to honor civillian service in WWII), the prize was officially reinstated by JFK in 1963 with a greater prestige and purpose.

The President himself picks the Medal of Freedom recipients, though he may also make his decision based on recommendations.

This year's recipients include Former President George H.W. Bush, author/poet Maya Angelou, and basketball great Bill Russell.

For a full list of Medal winners, and pictures of them receiving the award, check out the slideshow below.