When veteran TV star Ellen DeGeneres gets the nation’s highest civilian honor later this month, she’ll be in great company.
DeGeneres, 58, is one of 21 big names in the 2016 class of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, the White House announced in a press release on Wednesday.
Other honorees include Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Robert Redford and Robert De Niro, actress Cicely Tyson, sports icons Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels and music legends Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross.
The Medal of Freedom 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,” according to the press release.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor — it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”
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Other 2016 recipients include Elouise Cobell, Richard Garwin, Bill and Melinda Gates, Frank Gehry, Margaret H. Hamilton, Grace Hopper, Maya Lin, Newt Minow, Eduardo Padrón and Vin Scully.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom awards ceremony can be watched live on www.whitehouse.gov/live on Nov. 22.