the president: thank you. everybody, pleasehave a seat. we've got somework to do here. (laughter) this is not allfun and games. welcome to the whitehouse, everybody. today, we celebrateextraordinary americans who have lifted our spirits,strengthened our union, pushed us toward progress.
i always love doing thisevent, but this is a particularlyimpressive class. we've got innovatorsand artists. public servants, rabblerousers, athletes, renowned character actors -- likethe guy from space jam. we pay tribute to thosedistinguished individuals with our nation's highestcivilian honor -- the presidentialmedal of freedom. now, let me tell you alittle bit about each of them.
first, we came close tomissing out on bill and melinda gates'incredible partnership. because apparently bill'sopening line was, "do you want to go out two weeksfrom this coming saturday?" he's good withcomputers, but -- fortunately, melindabelieves in second chances. and the world isbetter for it. for two decades, the gatesfoundation has worked to provide lifesaving medicalcare to millions -- boosting
clean water supplies,improving education for our children, rallyingaggressive international action on climate change,cutting childhood mortality in half. the list could go on. these two have donated moremoney to charitable causes than anyone, ever. many years ago, melinda'smom told her an old saying: "to know that even one lifehas breathed easier because
you lived -- that issuccess." by this and just about any other measure, fewin human history have been more successful than thesetwo impatient optimists. frank gehry has never letpopular acclaim reverse his impulse to defy convention. "i was an outsider from thebeginning," he says, "so for better or worse, i thrivedon it." the child of poor jewish immigrants, frankgrew up in los angeles, and throughout his life heembraced the spirit of a
city defined byan open horizon. he's spent his liferethinking shapes and mediums, seemingly the forceof gravity itself; the idea of what architecture couldbe he decided to upend -- constantly repurposing everymaterial available, from titanium to apaper towel tube. he's inspiring our nextgeneration through his advocacy for artseducation in our schools. from the guggenheim, tobilbao, to chicago's
millennium park -- ourhometown -- to his home in santa monica, which iunderstand caused some consternation amonghis neighbors -- - frank's work teaches usthat while buildings may be sturdy and fixed to theground, like all great art, they can lift our spirits. they can soar andbroaden our horizons. when an undergraduate fromrural appalachia first set foot on the national mallmany years ago, she was
trying to figure out a wayto show that "war is not just a victory or a loss,"but "about individual lives." she considered howthe landscape might shape that message, rather thanthe other way around. the project that maya lindesigned for her college class earned her a b+ -- -- and a permanent placein american history. so all of you b+students out there. the vietnam veteransmemorial has changed the way
we think about monuments,but also about how we think about sacrifice, andpatriotism, and ourselves. maya has given us more thanjust places for remembering -- she has created placesfor us to make new memories. her sculptures, chapels, andhomes are "physical act[s] of poetry," each remindingus that the most important element in art orarchitecture is human emotion. three minutes beforearmstrong and aldrin touched down on the moon, apollo11's lunar lander alarms
triggered -- red and yellowlights across the board. our astronauts didn'thave much time. but thankfully, theyhad margaret hamilton. a young mit scientist -- anda working mom in the '60s -- margaret led the team thatcreated the onboard flight software that allowed theeagle to land safely. and keep in mind that,at this time, software engineering wasn'teven a field yet. there were no textbooks tofollow, so, as margaret
says, "there was no choicebut to be pioneers." luckily for us, margaretnever stopped pioneering. and she symbolizes thegeneration of unsung women who helped sendhumankind into space. her software architectureechoes in countless technologies today. and her example speaks ofthe american spirit of discovery that exists inevery little girl and little boy who know that somehow,to look beyond the heavens
is to look deep withinourselves -- and to figure out just what is possible. if wright is flight andedison is light, then hopper is code. born in 1906, rear admiralgrace murray hopper followed her mother into mathematics,earned her phd from yale, and set out on a longand storied career. at age 37, and a full 15pounds below military guidelines, the gutsy andcolorful grace joined the
navy and was sent to work onone of the first computers, harvard's "mark one." shesaw beyond the boundaries of the possible, and inventedthe first compiler, which allowed programs to bewritten in regular language and then translated forcomputers to understand. while the women whopioneered software were often overlooked, the mostprestigious award for young computer scientistsnow bear her name. from cell phones to cybercommand, we can thank grace
hopper for openingprogramming to millions more people, helping to usherin the information age and profoundly shapingour digital world. speaking of reallysmart people -- -- in the summer of 1950, ayoung university of chicago physicist found himself at los alamos national laboratory. dick garwin was there, hesaid, because chicago paid its faculty for nine monthsbut his family ate for 12.
so by the next summer,dick had helped create the hydrogen bomb. and for the rest of hislife, he dedicated himself to reducing thethreat of nuclear war. dick's not only an architectof the atomic age. ever since he was acleveland kid tinkering with his father's movieprojectors, he's never met a problem he didn'twant to solve. reconnaissance satellites,the mri, gps technology, the
touchscreen all bearhis fingerprints. he even patented a "musselwasher" for shellfish -- which i haven't used. the other stuff i have. where is he? dick has advised nearlyevery president since eisenhower -- oftenrather bluntly. enrico fermi -- also apretty smart guy himself -- is said to have called dick"the only true genius" he
ever met. i do want to seethis mussel washer. along with these scientists,artists, and thinkers, we also honor those who haveshaped our culture from the stage and the screen. in her long andextraordinary career, cicely tyson has not only succeededas an actor, she has shaped the whole course history. cicely was never thelikeliest of hollywood stars.
the daughter of immigrantsfrom the west indies, she was raised by a hardworkingand religious mother who cleaned houses and forbadeher children to attend the movies. but once she got hereducation and broke into the business, cicely made aconscious decision not just to say lines,but to speak out. "i would not accept roles,"she said, "unless they projected us, particularlywomen, in a realistic light,
[and] dealt with us as humanbeings." and from "sounder," to "the trip to bountiful,"to "the autobiography of miss jane pittman," cicely'sconvictions and grace have helped for us see thedignity of every single beautiful member ofthe american family. and she's just gorgeous. (laughter and applause) yes, she is. in 1973, a critic wrote ofrobert de niro, "this kid
doesn't just act -- he takesoff into the vapors." and it was true, hischaracters are iconic. a sicilian fatherturned new york mobster. a mobster who runs a casino. a mobster who needs therapy. a father-in-law who isscarier than a mobster. al capone -- a mobster. robert combines dramaticprecision and, it turns out, comedic timing with hissignature eye for detail.
and while the name de nirois synonymous with "tough guy," his true gift is thesensitivity that he brings to each role. this son of new york artistsdidn't stop at becoming one of the world'sgreatest actors. he's also a director, aphilanthropist, co-founder of the tribecafilm festival. of his tireless preparation-- from learning the saxophone to remaking hisbody -- he once said, "i
feel i have to earn theright to play a part." and the result is honest andauthentic art that reveals who we really are. in 1976, lorne michaelsimplored the beatles to reunite on hisbrand new show. in exchange, heoffered them $3,000. and then he told them theycould share it equally, or they could giveringo a smaller cut. which was early proof thatlorne michaels has a good
sense of humor. on saturday night live, he'screated a world where a band of no-names becomecomedy's biggest stars. where our friends theconeheads, and cheerleaders, and land sharks, andbasement deadbeats, and motivational speakers, andan unfrozen caveman lawyer show up, and tom hanksis on "black jeopardy." after four decades, even inthis fractured media culture that we've got, snl remainsappointment viewing; a
mainline into not just ourcounterculture but our culture; still a challengeto the powerful, especially folks like me. and yet even after all theseyears, lorne jokes that his tombstone should bear justa single word that's often found in the show'sreviews -- "uneven." as a current u.s. senator would say: doggoneit, lorne - that's why people like you.
he produced a senator, too,that's pretty impressive. ellen degeneres has a wayof making you laugh about something ratherthan at someone. except when i danced on hershow -- she laughed at me. but that's okay. it's easy to forget now,when we've come so far, where now marriage is equalunder the law -- just how much courage was requiredfor ellen to come out on the most public of stagesalmost 20 years ago.
just how important itwas not just to the lgbt community, but for all of usto see somebody so full of kindness and light, somebodywe liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor orour colleague or our sister challenge our ownassumptions, remind us that we have more in common thanwe realize, push our country in the direction of justice. what an incredibleburden that was to bear. to risk yourcareer like that.
people don't dothat very often. and then to have thehopes of millions on your shoulders. but it's like ellen says:w all want a tortilla chip that can support theweight of guacamole. which really makes no senseto me, but i thought would brighten the mood, because iwas getting kind of choked up. and she did pay a price --we don't remember this. i hadn't remembered it.
she did, for a pretty longstretch of time -- even in hollywood. and yet, today, every day,in every way, ellen counters what too often divides uswith the countless things that bind us together --inspires us to be better, one joke, onedance at a time. when the candidate wins hisrace in the iconic 1972 film of the same name, whichcontinues, by the way, for those of you who haven'tseen it, and many of you are
too young -- perhaps thebest movie about what politics isactually like, ever. he famously asks hiscampaign manager the reflective and revealingquestion: "what do we do now?" and like the man he playedin that movie, robert redford has figured it outand applied his talent and charm to achieve success. we admire bob not just forhis remarkable acting, but for having figuredout what to do next.
he created a platform forindependent filmmakers with the sundance institute. he has supported ournational parks and our natural resources asone of the foremost conservationistsof our generation. he's given his unmatchedcharisma to unforgettable characters like roy hobbs,nathan muir, and of course the sundance kid,entertaining us for more than half a century.
as an actor, director,producer, and as an advocate, he has not stopped-- and apparently drives so fast that he had breakfastin napa and dinner in salt lake. at 80 years young, robertredford has no plans to slow down. according to a recentheadline, the movie, sully was the last straw. we should nevertravel with tom hanks. i mean, you think about, yougot pirates, plane crashes,
you get marooned in airportpurgatory, volcanoes -- something happenswith tom hanks. and yet somehow, we can'tresist going where he wants to take us. he's been an accidentalwitness to history, a crusty women's baseball manager, aneveryman who fell in love with meg ryan three times. made it seem natural to havea volleyball as your best friend.
from a philadelphiacourtroom, to normandy's beachheads, to the darkside of the moon, he has introduced us to america'sunassuming heroes. tom says he just saw"ordinary guys who did the right thing at the righttime." well, it takes one to know one, and "america'sdad" has stood up to cancer with his beloved wife, rita. he has championed ourveterans, supported space exploration, and the truthis, tom has always saved his
best roles for real life. he is a good man -- which isthe best title you can have. so we got innovators,entertainers -- three more folks who've dedicatedthemselves to public service. in the early 1960s,thousands of cuban children fled to america, seeking aneducation they'd never get back home. and one refugee was15-year-old named eduardo padron, whose life changedwhen he enrolled at miami
dade college. that decision led to abachelor's degree, then a master's degree, then a phd,and then he had a choice -- he could go into corporateamerica, or he could give back to his alma mater. and eduardo made his choice-- to create more stories just like his. as miami dade's presidentsince 1995, dr. padron has built a "dream factory" forone of our nation's most
diverse student bodies --165,000 students in all. he's one of the world'spreeminent education leaders -- thinking out of thebox, supporting students throughout their lives,embodying the belief that we're only as greatas the doors we open. eduardo's example is one weall can follow -- a champion for those who strive for thesame american dream that first drew himto our shores. when elouise cobell firstfiled a lawsuit to recover
lands and money for herpeople, she didn't set out to be a hero. she said, "i justwanted...to give justice to people that didn't have it."and her lifelong quest to address the mismanagementof american indian lands, resources, and trust fundswasn't about special treatment, but the equaltreatment at the heart of the american promise. she fought for almost 15years -- across three
presidents, seven trials, 10appearances before a federal appeals court. all the while, she traveledthe country some 40 weeks a year, telling thestory of her people. and in the end, thisgraduate of a one-room schoolhouse becamea macarthur genius. she is a proud daughter ofmontana's blackfeet nation. reached ultimately ahistoric victory for all native americans.
through sheer force of willand a belief that the truth will win out, elouise cobellovercame the longest odds, reminding us that fightingfor what is right is always worth it. now, every journalist in theroom, every media critic knows the phrase newtminow coined: the "vast wasteland." but the twowords newt prefers we remember from his speech tothe nation's broadcasters are these: "publicinterest." that's been the
heartbeat of his life's work-- advocating for residents of public housing, advisinga governor and supreme court justice, cementingpresidential debates as our national institution,leading the fcc. when newt helped launchthe first communications satellites, makingnationwide broadcasts possible -- and eventuallygps possible and cellphones possible -- he predicted itwould be more important than the moon landing.
"this will launch ideas intospace," he said, "and ideas last longer than people." asfar as i know, he's the only one of today's honorees whowas present on my first date with michelle. imagine our surprise when wesaw newt, one of our bosses that summer, at the movietheater -- do the right thing. so he's been vital tomy personal interests. and finally, we honor fiveof the all-time greats in sports and music.
the game of baseball has ahandful of signature sounds. you hear thecrack of the bat. you got the crowd singing inthe seventh inning stretch. and you've got thevoice of vin scully. most fans listen to a game'sbroadcast when they can't be at the ballpark. generations of dodger fansbrought their radios into the stands because youdidn't want to miss one of vin's stories.
most play-by-play announcerspartner with an analyst in the booth to chatabout the action. vin worked alone andtalked just with us. since jackie robinsonstarted at second base, vin taught us the game andintroduced us to its players. he narrated the improbableyears, the impossible heroics, turned contestsinto conversations. when he heard about thishonor, vin asked with characteristic humility,"are you sure?
i'm just an old baseballannouncer." and we had to inform him that to americansof all ages, you are an old friend. in fact, i thought about himdoing all these citations, which would have been verycool, but i thought we shouldn't make him singfor his supper like that. "up next" -- here's how great kareemabdul-jabbar was: 1967, he had spent a year dominatingcollege basketball, the ncaa
bans the dunk. they'd didn't say it wasabout kareem, but it was about kareem. when a sport changes itsrules to make it harder just for you, youare really good. and yet despite the rulechange, he was still the sport's mostunstoppable force. it's a title he'd hold formore than two decades, winning nba finals mvps astaggering 14 years apart.
(someone sneezes) bless you. and as a surprisinglysimilar-looking co-pilot, roger murdoch, once said inthe movie, airplane -- i mean, we've got some greatactors here -- space jam, airplane. he did it all while draggingwalton and lanier up and down the courtfor 48 minutes. but the reason we honorkareem is more than just a
pair of gogglesand the skyhook. he stood up for his muslimfaith when it wasn't easy and it wasn't popular. he's as comfortable sparringwith bruce lee as he is advocating on capitolhill or writing with extraordinary eloquenceabout patriotism. physically, intellectually,spiritually -- kareem is one-of-a-kind -- an americanwho illuminates both our most basic freedoms andour highest aspirations.
when he was five years old,michael jordan nearly cut off his big toe with an axe. back then, his handlesneeded a little work. but think -- if things hadgone differently, air jordan just might neverhave taken flight. i mean, you don't want tobuy a shoe with one toe missing. we may never have seen himswitch hands in mid-air against the lakers. or drop 63 in the garden.
or gut it outin the flu game. or hit "the shot" threedifferent times -- over georgetown, overehlo, over russell. we might not have seenhim take on larry bird in h-o-r-s-e or lift up thesport globally along with the dream team. yet mj is still more thanthose moments; more than just the best player on thetwo greatest teams of all time -- the dream team andthe chicago '96 bulls.
he's more than a logo, morethan just an internet meme. more than just a charitabledonor or a business owner committed to diversity. there is a reason you callsomeone "the michael jordan of" -- michael jordan ofneurosurgery, or the michael jordan of rabbis, or themichael jordan of outrigger canoeing -- and they knowwhat you're talking about. because michael jordanis the michael jordan of greatness.
he is the definition ofsomebody so good at what they do that everybodyrecognizes them. that's pretty rare. as a child, diana ross lovedsinging and dancing for family friends --but not for free. she was smart enoughto pass the hat. and later, in detroit'sbrewster housing projects, she met mary wilsonand florence ballard. their neighbor, smokeyrobinson, put them in front
of berry gordy -- and therest was magic -- music history. the supremes earned apermanent place in the american soundtrack. along with her honey voice,her soulful sensibility, diana exuded glamour andgrace that filled stages that helped to shapethe sound of motown. on top of becoming oneof the most successful recording artists of alltime, raised five kids -- somehow found time to earnan oscar nomination for acting.
today, from the hip-hop thatsamples her, to the young singers who've been inspiredby her, to the audiences that still cannot get enoughof her -- diana ross's influence isinescapable as ever. he was sprung from acage out on highway 9. a quiet kid from jersey,just trying to make sense of the temples of dreams andmystery that dotted his hometown -- pool halls,bars, girls and cars, altars and assembly lines.
and for decades, brucespringsteen has brought us all along on a journeyconsumed with the bargains between ambition andinjustice, and pleasure and pain; the simple gloriesand scattered heartbreak of everyday life in america. to create one of his biggesthits, he once said, "i wanted to craft a recordthat sounded like the last record on earth...the lastone you'd ever need to hear. one glorious noise...thenthe apocalypse." every
restless kid in america wasgiven a story: "born to run." he didn't stop there. once he told us abouthimself, he told us about everybody else. the steelworker in"youngstown." the vietnam vet in "born in theusa." the sick and the marginalized on "the streetsof philadelphia." the firefighter carrying theweight of a reeling but resilient nation on "therising." the young soldier
reckoning with "devilsand dust" in iraq. the communities knocked downby recklessness and greed in the "wrecking ball." all ofus, with all our faults and our failings, every color,and class, and creed, bound together by one defiant,restless train rolling toward "the land of hopeand dreams." these are all anthems of our america; thereality of who we are, and the reverie ofwho we want to be. "the hallmark of a rockand roll band," bruce
springsteen once said, isthat "the narrative you tell together is bigger thananyone could have told on your own." and for decades,alongside the big man, little steven, a jersey girlnamed patti, and all the men and women of the e streetband, bruce springsteen has been carrying the rest of uson his journey, asking us all "what is the work forus to do in our short time here." i am the president. but he is the boss.
and pushing 70, he's stilllaying down four-hour live sets -- if you have beenat them, he is working. "fire-breathing rock 'n'roll." so i thought twice about giving him a medalnamed for freedom because we hope he remains, in hiswords, a "prisoner of rock 'n' roll" for years to come. so, i told you, this islike a really good class. ladies and gentlemen, i wantyou all to give it up for the recipients of the 2016presidential medal of freedom.
(applause) it is a good group. all right. now we actually gotto give them medals. so please be patient. we are going to have mymilitary aide read the citations. each one of them will comeup and receive the medals, and then we'll wrapup the program.
okay. let's hit it. military aide:kareem abdul-jabbar. an iconic basketball playerwho revolutionized the sport with his all-around play andsignature skyhook, kareem abdul-jabbar is a 19-timeall-star, a 6-time world champion, and the leadingscorer in nba history. adding to his achievementson the court he also left his mark off of it,advocating for civil rights,
cancer research, scienceeducation, and social justice. in doing so, kareemabdul-jabbar leaves a towering legacy ofcompassion, faith, and service to others -- alegacy based not only on the strength and grace of hisathleticism, but on the sharpness of his mind andthe size of his heart. turk cobell, acceptingon behalf of his mother, elouise c. cobell yellowbird woman. a member of the blackfeetnation, elouise cobell spent
her life defying the oddsand working on behalf of her people. as a young woman, she wastold that she wasn't capable of understanding accounting. so she mastered the field --and used her expertise to champion a lawsuit whosehistoric settlement has helped restore tribalhomelands to her beloved blackfeet nation andmany other tribes. today, her tenacious andunwavering spirit lives on
in the thousands of peopleand hundreds of tribes for whom she fought and in allthose she taught to believe that it is never too late toright the wrongs of the past and help shapea better future. ellen degeneres. in a career spanning threedecades, ellen degeneres has lifted our spirits andbrought joy to our lives as a stand-up comic, actor,and television star. in every role, she remindsus to be kind to one another
and to treat people as eachof us wants to be treated. at a pivotal moment, hercourage and candor helped change the hearts and mindsof millions of americans, accelerating our nation'sconstant drive toward equality andacceptance for all. again and again, ellendegeneres has shown us that a single individual can makethe world a more fun, more open, more loving place --so long as we "just keep swimming."
robert de niro. for over 50 years, robert deniro has delivered some of screen's most memorableperformances, cementing his place as one of the mostgifted actors of his generation. from "the godfather part ii"and "the deer hunter" to "midnight run" and "heat,"his work is legendary for its range and depth. relentlessly committed tohis craft, de niro embodies
his characters, creatingrich, nuanced portraits that reflect the heart ofthe human experience. regardless of genre or era,robert de niro continues to demonstrate thatextraordinary skill that has made him one of america'smost revered and influential artists. richard l. garwin. one of the most renownedscientific and engineering minds of our time,dr. richard garwin has
always answered the call tohelp solve society's most challenging problems. he has coupled hispioneering work in defense and intelligencetechnologies with leadership that underscores the urgencyfor humanity to control the spread of nuclear arms. through his advice torepublican and democratic administrations dating topresident eisenhower, his contributions in fundamentalresearch, and his inventions
that power technologies thatdrive our modern world, richard garwin hascontributed not only to this nation's security andprosperity, but to the quality of life for peopleall over the world. william h. gates iii and melinda french gates. few people have had theprofound global impact of bill and melinda gates. through their work at thebill and melinda gates foundation, they'vedemonstrated how the most
capable and fortunate amongus have a responsibility to use their talents andresources to tackle the world's greatest challenges. from helping women and girlslift themselves and their families out of povertyto empowering young minds across america, they havetransformed countless lives with their generosityand innovation. bill and melinda gatescontinue to inspire us with their impatient optimismthat, together, we can
remake the worldas it should be. frank gehry. never limited byconventional materials, styles, or processes, frankgehry's bold and thoughtful structures demonstratearchitecture's power to induce wonder andrevitalize communities. a creative mind from anearly age, he began his career by building imaginaryhomes and cities with scrap material from hisgrandfather's hardware store.
since then, his workcontinues to strike a balance betweenexperimentation and functionality, resulting insome of the 20th century's most iconic buildings. from his pioneering use oftechnology to the dozens of awe-inspiring sites thatbear his signature style to his public service as acitizen artist through his work with turnaround arts,frank gehry has proven himself an exemplar scholarof american innovation.
margaret heafield hamilton. a pioneer in technology,margaret hamilton defined new forms of softwareengineering and helped launch an industry thatwould forever change human history. her software architectureled to giant leaps for humankind, writing the codethat helped america set foot on the moon. she broke barriers infounding her own software
businesses, revolutionizingan industry and inspiring countless women toparticipate in stem fields. her love of exploration andinnovation are the source code of the american spirit,and her genius has inspired generations toreach for the stars. thomas j. hanks. throughout a distinguishedfilm career, tom hanks has revealed the character ofamerica, as well as his own. portraying war heroes, anastronaut, a ship captain, a
cartoon cowboy, a young mangrowing up too fast, and dozens of others, he'sallowed us to see ourselves -- not only as we are,but as we aspire to be. on screen and off, tom hankshas honored the sacrifices of those who have served ournation, called on us all to think big and to believe,and inspired a new generation of young peopleto reach for the sky. deborah murray, accepting onbehalf of her great aunt, grace murray hopper.
as a child who loveddisassembling alarm clocks, rear admiral grace murrayhopper found her calling early. a vassar alumna with a ph.d. in mathematics from yale,hopper served in the navy during world war ii,becoming one of the first programmers inearly computing. known today as the "queen ofcode," grace hopper's work helped make the codinglanguage more practical and accessible.
she invented the firstcompiler, or translator, a fundamental element ofour now digital world. "amazing grace" wascommitted to making the language of computerprogramming more universal. today, we honor hercontributions to computer science and the sense ofpossibility she inspired in generations of young people. michael j. jordan. powered by a drive tocompete that earned him
every major award inbasketball, including six nba championships, five mostvaluable player awards, and two gold medals, michaeljordan has a name that's become a synonymfor excellence. his wagging tongue andhigh-flying dunks redefined the game, making him aglobal superstar whose impact transcendedbasketball and shaped our nation's broader culture. from the courts inwilmington, chapel hill, and
chicago to the owner's suitehe occupies today, his life and example have inspiredmillions of americans to strive to "be like mike." maya y. lin. boldly challenging ourunderstanding of the world, maya lin's designs havebrought people of all walks of life together inspirits of remembrance, introspection, and humility. the manipulation of naturalterrain and topography
within her works inspires usto bridge our differences and recognize the gravity ofour collective existence. her pieces have changed thelandscape of our country and influenced the dialogue ofour society -- never more profoundly than with hertribute to the americans who fell in vietnam by cuttinga wound into the earth to create a sacred place ofhealing in our nation's capital. lorne michaels.
one of the mosttransformative entertainment figures of our time, lornemichaels followed his dreams to new york city, where hecreated a sketch show that brought satire, wits, andmodern comedy to homes around the world. under his meticulous commandas executive producer, "saturday night live" hasentertained audiences across generations, reflecting --and shaping -- critical elements of our cultural,political, and national life.
lorne michaels' creativelegacy stretches into late-night television,sitcoms, and the big screen, making us laugh, challengingus to think, and raising the bar for those who follow. as one of his show'ssignature characters would say, "well, isn'tthat special?" newton n. minow. as a soldier, counsel tothe governor of illinois, chairman of the federalcommunications commission,
and law clerk to the chiefjustice of the supreme court, newton minow's careerhas been defined by his devotion to others. deeply committed to hisfamily, the law, and the american people, hisdedication to serving and empowering the public isreflected in his efforts to ensure that broadcast mediaeducates and provides opportunity for all. challenging the media tobetter serve their viewers,
his staunch commitment tothe power of ideas and information has transformedtelecommunications and its influential rolein our society. dr. eduardo j. padrã³n. as a teenage refugee fromcuba, eduardo padrã³n came to the united states to pursuethe american dream, and he has spent his life makingthat dream real for others. as president of thecommunity college he once attended, his thoughtfulleadership and commitment to
education have transformedmiami dade college into one of the premier learninginstitutions in the country, earning him praisearound the world. his personal story andlasting professional influence prove that successneed not be determined by our background, but by ourdedication to others and our passion for creating americathat is as inclusive as it is prosperous. robert redford.
robert redford hascaptivated audiences from both sides of the camerathrough entertaining motion pictures that often explorevital social, political, and historical themes. his lifelong advocacy onbehalf of preserving our environment will prove asan enduring legacy as his award-winning films, as willhis pioneering support for independent filmmakersacross america. his art and activismcontinue to shape our
nation's cultural heritage,inspiring millions to laugh, cry, think, and change. diana ross. a daughter of detroit, dianaross helped create the sound of motown withher iconic voice. from her groundbreaking workwith the supremes to a solo career that has spanneddecades, she has influenced generations of young artistsand shaped our nation's musical landscape.
in addition to a grammyâ©lifetime achievement award and countless musicalaccolades, diana ross has distinguished herself asan actor, earning an oscar nomination and agolden globe award. with over 25 albums,unforgettable hit singles, and live performances thatcontinue to captivate audiences around the world,diana ross still reigns supreme. next up, vin scully.
with a voice thattranscended a sport and transformed a profession,vin scully narrated america's pastime forgenerations of fans. known to millions as thesoundtrack of summer, he found time to teach usabout life and love while chronicling routine playsand historic heroics. in victory and in defeat,his colorful accounts reverberated through thebleachers, across the airwaves, and into ourhomes and imaginations.
he is an american treasureand a beloved storyteller, and our country's gratitudefor vin scully is as profound as hislove for the game. bruce f. springsteen. as a songwriter, ahumanitarian, america's rock and roll laureate, andnew jersey's greatest ambassador, brucespringsteen is, quite simply, the boss. through stories aboutordinary people, from
vietnam veterans to steelworkers, his songs capture the pain and the promise ofthe american experience. with his legendary e streetband, bruce springsteen leaves everything on stagein epic, communal live performances that haverocked audiences for decades. with empathy and honesty, heholds up a mirror to who we are -- as americans chasingour dreams, and as human beings trying todo the right thing. there's a place for everyonein bruce
springsteen's america. cicely tyson. for sixty years, cicelytyson has graced the screen and the stage, enlighteningus with her groundbreaking characters and calls toconscience, humility, and hope. her achievements as anactor, her devotion to her faith, and her commitment toadvancing equality for all americans-especially womenof color -- have touched audiences of multiplegenerations.
from "the autobiographyof miss jane pittman," to "sounder," to "the trip tobountiful," cicely tyson's performances illuminate thecharacter of our people and the extraordinarypossibilities of america. the president: so, just on apersonal note, part of the reason that these events areso special to me is because everybody on this stagehas touched me in a very powerful, personal way --in ways that they probably couldn't imagine.
whether it was having beeninspired by a song, or a game, or a story, or a film,or a monument, or in the case of newt minowintroducing me to michelle -- -- these are folks who havehelped make me who i am and think about my presidency,and what also makes them special is, this is america. and it's useful when youthink about this incredible collection of people torealize that this is what makes us the greatestnation on earth.
not because of what we -- not because of ourdifferences, but because, in our difference, we findsomething common to share. and what a gloriousthing that is. what a great giftthat is to america. so i want all of youto enjoy the wonderful reception that will betaking place afterwards. michelle and i have to getback to work, unfortunately, but i hear the foodis pretty good.
and i would like all of youto give one big rousing round of applause to our2016 honorees for the give it up.