WASHINGTON — The creator of Saturday Night Live and the iconic voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom named by the White House today.
The award was established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize meritorious civilian service during World War II, and President Kennedy later deemed it a peacetime award as well. The White House said said it will be “presented 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” at a Nov. 22 awards ceremony.
“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 accompanying the list of names. “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.”
The recipients are:
L.A. Lakers’ star and social justice advocate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres
Actor Robert DeNiro
National Medal of Science-winning polymath physicist Richard Garwin
Bill and Melinda Gates
Architect Frank Gehry
Mathematician and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, who led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo command modules and lunar modules
Actor Tom Hanks
NBA legend Michael Jordan
Vietnam Veterans Memorial artist Maya Lin
SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels
Kennedy-era Federal Communications Committee chairman and attorney Newt Minnow
President of Miami Dade College Eduardo Padrón
Actor Robert Redford
Singer Diana Ross
National Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully
Singer Bruce Springsteen
Actress Cicely Tyson
Two recipients are receiving the award posthumously: Elouise Cobell, a Blackfeet Tribal community leader, and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, aka “the first lady of software,” who was a leader of computer development from the 1940s through 1980s.