There was lots of excitement this fall at the White House as the ‘’who’s who’’ in the world of music, film, baseball, culture, and world peace were honored by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Presented annually to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, the seventeen honorees were feted with a standing ovation in the legendary East Room of the White House, which was filled to capacity.
Taking the time out of his very hectic schedule handling the crisis situations in Europe and in California, President Obama welcomed the recipients and their families for this very special celebration of exceptional innovators, artists, and leaders.
‘’This is an extraordinary group. Even by the standards of Medal of Freedom recipients, this is a class act,’’ said President Obama as he was about to introduce the honorees.
The following recipients were honored with the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom: NASA mathematician and scientist Katherine Johnson; Senator Barbara Mikulski; Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (posthumous); Congressman Lee Hamilton; singer, actress, producer, and philanthropist Barbra Joan Streisand; composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim; violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman; recording and touring artist/singer James Taylor; baseball legend Willie Mays; music producer, songwriter, and businessman Emilio Estefan Jr.; singer and songwriter Gloria Estefan; civil rights leader Minoru Yasui (posthumous); film director, producer, and philanthropist Steven Spielberg; baseball Great Lawrence ‘’Yogi’’ Berra (posthumous); the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency William Ruckelshaus; humanitarian Billy Frank, Jr. (posthumous); and founder of Tragedy Assistance Program Survivors (TAPS) Bonnie Carroll.
‘’We are just reminded when we see these individuals here on the stage what an incredible tapestry this country is and what a great blessing to be in a nation where individuals as diverse, from as wildly different backgrounds, can help to shape our dreams, how we live together, help define justice and freedom and love. They represent what’s best in us, and we are very, very proud to be able to celebrate them here today,’’ said President Obama.
And just like the very gracious hosts as they are, President Obama and the First Lady invited their honored guests for a tasting of the culinary creations prepared by the White House gourmet chefs. ‘’My understanding is also there’s pretty good food in the White House, so please enjoy the reception. And congratulations to all the recipients. Thank you very much, everybody,’’ concluded the President.
Just one more very busy day in the life of the White House. ‘’But this is a fun kind of busy right here,’’ said the President.
PHOTOS courtesy of the White House.
Lina Broydo immigrated from Russia, then the Soviet Union, to Israel where she was educated and got married. After working at the University in Birmingham, England she and her husband immigrated to the United States. She lives in Los Altos Hills, CA and writes about travel, art, style, entertainment, and sports. She hardly cooks or bakes, with no borsch or piroshky on her home cooking menu. Therefore, she makes reservations and enjoys dining out, mostly sushi.
By Lina Broydo