Obama to honour Clinton, Oprah with presidential medal

US President Barack Obama will bestow the country`s highest civilian honour on his predecessor Bill Clinton and celebrity talk show host Oprah Winfrey, the White House said.

Last Updated: Aug 09, 2013, 11:32 AM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama will bestow the country`s highest civilian honour on his predecessor Bill Clinton and celebrity talk show host Oprah Winfrey, the White House said.

Clinton and Winfrey are among the 16 recipients of The Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the US, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours.

The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.

"The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours.

This year`s honourees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world," Obama said in a statement on Thursday.

"It will be my honour to present them with a token of our nation`s gratitude," he said.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Executive Order signed by President John F Kennedy establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as the first ceremony bestowing the honour on an inaugural class of 31 recipients.

Since that time, more than 500 exceptional individuals from all corners of society have been awarded the medal.

Among other recipients are Ernie Banks, one of the greatest baseball players of all time; Ben Bradlee, one of the most respected newsmen of his generation; Daniel Kahneman, a pioneering scholar of psychology; former Senator Richard Lugar; country music legend, Loretta Lynn; Mario Molina, a visionary chemist and environmental scientist; Arturo Sandoval, celebrated jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer.

Dean Smith, head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team from 1961 to 1997; Gloria Steinem, a renowned writer and activist for women`s equality; Cordy Tindell "C T" Vivian, a distinguished minister, author, and organiser; and Patricia Wald, one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation are also on the list.

Three of them have been named posthumously Daniel Inouye, a lifelong public servant; Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space and Bayard Rustin an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all.

PTI