President Obama presented Wednesday the nation's highest accolade, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 16 Americans involved in diverse fields, from science, to journalism, to sports.
"This year is special because it is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy establishing this award," Obama said at the ceremony in the White House's East Room.
"Today, we salute fierce competitors who became true champions."
Friday also marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's death. After the Medals were presented to the recipients, President Clinton and the Obamas visited an eternal flame that marks JFK's gravesite at the Arlington National Cemetery.
The men and women honored today are truly remarkable achievers, from civil rights leaders to political powerhouses. Here they are: