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Tom Hanks, Ellen Degeneres, Bruce Springsteen get Presidential Medal of Freedom

By Daniel Uria
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Tom Hanks, Ellen Degeneres, Bruce Springsteen get Presidential Medal of Freedom
President Barack Obama leaves after holding a press conference at the White House on Monday. Obama named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday, including entertainers such as Tom Hanks and Ellen DeGeneres, athletes Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill and Melinda Gates among others. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama named several activists, scientists, philanthropists, athletes and artists as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The 21 recipients announced Wednesday include entertainers such as Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Lorne Michaels, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson.

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"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. "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."

Former athletes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, as well as longtime Dodgers baseball broadcaster Vin Scully were also honored.

Posthumus awards were also granted to Blackfeet Tribal community leader Elouise Cobell and Rear Adm. Grace Hopper.

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Cobell was recognized for her advocacy of Native American self-determination and financial independence by founding the Native American Bank and serving as director of the Native American Community Development Corp.

Hopper, also known as "Amazing Grace" and "the first lady of software," was honored for her role in creating the first compiler by making coding languages more practical and accessible by translating source code from one language into another.

Bill and Melinda Gates were also honored for their philanthropy through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which they founded in 2000 to promote healthy, productive lives throughout the world including fighting hunger and extreme poverty in developing countries.

Other recipients include architect Frank Gehry, sculpture and landscape artist Maya Lin polymath physicist Richard Garwin, creator of NASA's on-board flight software Margaret H. Hamilton, former chairman of the Federal Communications Committee Newt Minow and president of Miami Dade College Eduardo Padron.

The recipients will be presented with the award on at the White House on Nov. 22 in an event that will be live-streamed on the White House's website.

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