The Presidential Medal of Freedom is one of the greatest awards that can be given to a civilian in the United States. This week marked the last time that President Barack Obama would get to award people with this great honor.
On Tuesday, the East Wing of the White House had a very impressive gathering which included sports figures, philanthropists, musicians, scientists, and artists. Some of the biggest names included Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross and Michael Jordan. They all gathered together with smiles on their faces as they showed their appreciation to the president.
President Obama made a speech near the end of the ceremony about how all the recipients of the award on that day had touched him in a very personal way. Obama said these people made him who he is today, which may have been a reference to how they helped him get elected president.
Some of the recipients, like Michael Jordan, were clearly just personal heroes to President Obama and gave him inspiration to succeed in his life. Other recipients, like Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, are known for being huge donors to President Obama as well as other Democratic politicians. Back in February, Hanks was even part of a discussion about the future construction of the Obama Presidential Library and the Obama Foundation.
Another former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was also given the award on Tuesday. When President Obama tried to put the medal around Abdul-Jabbar’s neck, he had trouble reaching it because Abdul-Jabbar is so tall. The basketball giant then leaned his head back so that the president could finally reach his neck.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke at the Democratic National Convention back in July and had harsh words to say about Donald Trump over his proposal to ban Muslims. When Trump takes office in January, it is doubtful that Abdul-Jabbar or the other recipients of the award this week will ever come back to the White House as long as Trump is president.