Ellen Degeneres Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Ellen Degeneres accepts the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Photo courtesy of Hello Magazine
Known for her compassionate nature and sense of humor, Ellen Degeneres was recently awarded with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with 20 other recipients.
Degeneres, one of the most watched and successful talk show hosts, has made a name for herself in the television industry. Notorious for playing her humorous games, constantly scaring celebrities, humiliating her audience, spying on the public, and displaying her signature laugh, this talk show host knows how to force a smile on one’s face. Setting aside the fun and games, Degeneres also demonstrates a personal side to her infamous shows, allowing the public to sit down and share their challenges and hardships. Through her charitable nature, Degeneres relays her compassion back to individuals and communities in need, bringing strangers in from around the world to tell their stories.
President Obama hosted his last Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, honoring those who exhibited diversity and a variety of talents, including actors, producers, musicians, artists, engineers, and philanthropists. Recipients this year included Michael Jordan, Bill and Melinda Gates, Diana Ross, Robert De Niro, and Tom Hanks. These individuals were praised for their contributions to world peace, culture, and national interests. President Obama stated, “Everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, personal way, in ways that they probably couldn’t imagine.”
In 1977, during one of her shows, Degeneres came out of the closet and placed herself in a position of vulnerability. In a time when those decisions were not as universally welcomed, Degeneres fought tirelessly for her humanitarian rights as an individual. Her bold actions inspired many who were in the same exact situation as she was in and the courage that she demonstrated stirred the nation.
The teary-eyed comedian was praised for her actions, “It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far — where now marriage is equal under the law — just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago,” President Obama said. “Just how important it was. Not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us.”
The comedian’s famous line, “just keep swimming,” defines her love, joy, tolerance, and positivity of her career and how she continues to inspire the nation, especially needed in this pivotal time today.