President Barack Obama has named seventeen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, 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.
The awards will be presented at the White House on November 24th.
President Obama said, “I look forward to presenting these 17 distinguished Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor. From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans.”
Among the individuals who will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom are:
- Yogi Berra (posthumous)
Yogi Berra spent over 40 years as a professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach. Widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history – and an all-time Yankee great – Berra was an 18-time All-Star and 10-time World Series Champion who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Always quick witted, Berra was famous for his “Yogi-isms,” teaching us all that we can observe a lot just by watching. Berra was also a lifelong ambassador for inclusion in sports. Berra put his professional career on hold to join the Navy during World War II, where he fought with Allied forces on D-Day and eventually earned a Purple Heart.
- Emilio Estefan
Emilio Estefan is a passionate and visionary music producer, entrepreneur, author, and songwriter who has won nineteen Grammy Awards and influenced a generation of artists. As the founding member of the Miami Sound Machine, and later through a decades-long career producing and shaping the work of countless stars, Estefan has helped popularize Latin music around the world. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Emilio Estefan is an inductee to the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
- Gloria Estefan
Gloria Estefan is a singer, songwriter, actor, and entrepreneur who introduced Latin music to a global audience. The Cuban-American lead singer of the Miami Sound Machine has had chart topping hits such as “Conga,” “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” and “Anything for You.” Estefan has won seven Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide. She is an inductee to the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Estefan became one of the first mainstream Hispanic artists to crossover between English and Spanish language music paving the way for countless other Latin artists to follow.
- Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim is one of the country’s most influential theater composers and lyricists. His work has helped define American theater with shows such as Company, West Side Story, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods. Sondheim has received eight Grammy Awards, eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Sondheim also founded Young Playwrights, Inc., to develop and promote the work of American playwrights aged 18 and younger.
- Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is an American film director, producer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. Spielberg’s films include blockbusters such as Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and the Indiana Jones series, as well as socially conscious works Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, and his newest film Bridge of Spies. A three-time Academy Award winner, Spielberg is widely considered one of the most influential filmmakers in cinematic history. His films have grossed over 8.5 billion dollars worldwide. Spielberg is the co-founder of DreamWorks Studios as well as the founder of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, an organization dedicated to overcoming intolerance and bigotry through the use of visual history testimony.
- Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand is one of our Nation’s most gifted talents. Her body of work includes extraordinary singing, acting, directing, producing, songwriting, and she is one of the few performers to receive an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony. Her performance in 1968’s Funny Girl endeared her to Americans for generations, and she won her first Academy Award for her role in that film. In 1984, she became the first woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director, which she won for the motion picture Yentl. Streisand is also a recipient of four Peabody Awards, in addition to the National Medal of Arts and Kennedy Center Honors. In 2009, she endowed the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which works to correct gender inequality in the research of a disease which each year kills more women than men.
- James Taylor
As a recording and touring artist, James Taylor has touched people with his warm baritone voice and distinctive style of guitar-playing for more than 40 years, while setting a precedent to which countless young musicians have aspired. Over the course of his celebrated songwriting and performing career, Taylor has sold more than 100 million albums, earning gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards for classics ranging from Sweet Baby James in 1970 to October Road in 2002. In 2015 Taylor released Before This World, his first new studio album in thirteen years, which earned him his first ever #1 album. He has won multiple Grammy awards and has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame.