On November 22, President Barack Obama
held his final Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House
. It is the country's highest civilian honor and is typically given to those who have made an impact on the world stage in everything from world peace to popular culture.
The ceremony included 21 recipients, including entertainment icons Diana Ross, Robert Redford, Cicely Tyson, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Ellen DeGeneres, Lorne Michaels, and Bruce Springteen, and basketball legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan.
A posthumous award was given to Elouise Cobell, the Blackfeet Tribal community leader who fought for Native American rights and financial dependence. Grace Hopper, who was known as "The first lady of software" for her technical achievements during World War II, also received a posthumous honor.
"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," Obama said in a statement on November 16. "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."
for photos from the ceremony. (Getty)