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WASHINGTON ( — President Obama will award 16 recipients with the prestigious Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony later this year.

The award is the highest honor the US bestows upon citizens.

Of the 16 recipients this year, a number of pop culture personalities, musicians and scientists were selected. A statement from the White House said President Obama’s selections included people who contributed to America’s cultural, security and public interest.

President John Kennedy re-introduced the award 50 years ago. More than 500 Americans have been so honored.

This year’s recipients are:

• Former President Bill Clinton

• Network owner Oprah Winfrey

• Baseball Hall of Famer aka Mr. Cub Ernie Banks

• Former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee

″ Former Senator and WWII Vet Daniel Inouye

• Nobel Prize winner Psychologist Daniel Kahneman

• Former Senator Richard Lugar

• Country music legend Loretta Lynn

• Environmentalist Mario Molina

• First American woman in space Sally Ride

• Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin

• Composer Arturo Sandoval

• Former Head Coach of North Carolina basketball Dean Smith

• Writer/Activist Gloria Steinem

• Civil rights leader Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian

• Appellate court Judge Patricia Wald

Awards given to Ride, Rustin and Inouye will be presented posthumously.

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