Washington, Nov 22 (EFE).- US President Barack Obama on Tuesday filled the White House with stars for his last Presidential Medals of Freedom ceremony, in which he awarded actors Robert de Niro, Robert Redford and Tom Hanks, musician Bruce Springsteen and basketball player Michael Jordan, among others.
Obama invited 21 people for bestowing them the country’s highest civilian honor, which makes him the US president who has handed out the most Medals of Freedom during the tenure, with at least 114.
“Everyone on this stage has touched me in a powerful personal way. These are folks who have helped make me who I am,” Obama said at the end of the ceremony in the White house’s East Wing.
About Springsteen Obama said that he has devoted his career to creating “hymns about the United States,” which relate the “simple glories and sufferings of daily life” in the country, and noted that at age 67 he is still giving four-hour concerts.
“I’m the president, he’s the boss,” Obama joked.
Among the other honorees were singer Diana Ross, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, architect Frank Gehry, basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, actress Cicely Tyson and the president of Miami Dade College (MDC), Eduardo Padron.
“Today, we celebrate extraordinary Americans who have lifted our spirits, strengthened our union, pushed us towards progress. We’ve got innovators and artists, public servants, rabble-rousers, athletes, renowned character actors, like the guy from “Space Jam,” Obama joked in reference to Michael Jordan in that movie, which was released in 1996.
Like other US presidents, Obama has tried to get his ideas about the country reflected in the honorees he awarded the Medal of Freedom, since he has given this award to more minority members (44) and more women (41) than any of his predecessors, according to The Washington Post.
Some of the honorees have also been critical of Obama’s successor, Republican Donald Trump, including Springsteen, De Niro and Abdul Jabbar.
Other award recipients were the Native American activist and banker Elouise Cobell (posthumous), physicist Richard Garwin, architect Maya Lin, mathematician Margaret H. Hamilton, who helped create software for the mission to the Moon of Apollo 11, programmer Grace Hopper (posthumous), sportscaster Vin Scully, and the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newt Minow.