President Obama held a special ceremony at the White House, presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom award to 21 artists, sports figures, scientists and philanthropists.
Popular American TV star and LGBT woman Ellen DeGeneres was among the ones honored — though the memorable day did not start off well, as the beloved talk show host was not allowed inside the White House initially.
“They haven’t let me in to the White House yet because I forgot my ID,” she tweeted.
But things changed for the better later. She was not only allowed inside to receive her honor, she made sure she makes a grand entry with the popular mannequin challenge, featuring Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates and Vin Scully.
This is the second most star-studded group the web has ever experienced after Michelle Obama’s challenge with members of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I'm in. pic.twitter.com/oU344pnYsH— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) November 22, 2016
In a tribute to Degeneres, President Obama was all praise for the 58-year old popular TV host. He spoke emotionally about the courage the lady needed to make the world come to terms with the fact that she is gay.
“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,” Obama said of DeGeneres’s career.
He described DeGeneres as someone “so full of kindness and light,” who unifies the country by showing people that they have more in common than they realize.
“What an incredible burden that was to bear,” the president said.
“Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together,” the president continued. She “inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time.”
He almost choked up praising his favorite TV star.
“But it’s like Ellen says, ‘We all want a tortilla chip to support the weight of guacamole,’” Obama said, seemingly out of nowhere, as Ms. DeGeneres nodded behind him and the audience laughed.
“Which really makes no sense to me. But I wanted to break the mood, because I was getting choked up.”
Of course, there was no shortage of tears and emotions rolling down Ellen’s eyes as she received the Medal of Freedom Award.
“In a career spanning three decades, Ellen DeGeneres has lifted our spirits and brought joy to our lives as a standup comic, actor and television star,” the announcer said as President Obama placed the medal around "The Ellen Show" star’s neck.
“In every role, she reminds us to be kind to one another and to treat people as each of us wants to be treated. At a pivotal moment, her courage and candor helped change the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, accelerating our nation’s constant drive towards equality and acceptance for all. Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place so long as we just keep swimming.”
The Medal of Freedom Award is presented at the president’s discretion; it carries symbolic meaning by highlighting the types of accomplishments he values among our nation’s civic and cultural leaders.
Obama has given more Presidential Medals of Freedom than any previous president.