President Barack Obama presented 16 people with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during Wednesday's White House ceremony, and later that night, the honorees were celebrated again with a special dinner at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. During the night's event, the grandson of the late President John F. Kennedy introduced Obama, who addressed the audience. In a statement, Obama said that the medal goes "to men and women who have dedicated their lives to enriching ours." Recipients included famous faces like Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton, who had President Obama cracking up throughout the day's ceremony. First Lady Michelle Obama was also on hand for the special day, along with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton, who were there for Bill's special moment. Before presenting the awards, Obama told the crowd, "This is one of my favorite events every year. This year it's just a little more special, because this marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy establishing this award."
President Obama had kind words for the honorees at the ceremony, acknowledging each person's influence in their respective industries. While presenting Clinton with the medal, Obama said, "Lifting up families like his own has been the story of Bill Clinton's life," adding, "I'm grateful, Bill, as well, for the advice and counsel that you've offered me on the golf course." Speaking about Oprah's achievements in activism and journalism, he said, "Her message was always 'you can.' Michelle and I count ourselves among her many devoted fans and friends."
Also among the honorees was Gloria Steinem, who was recognized for her efforts in feminism and women's rights, and Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut. "As the first American woman in space," Obama said, "Sally didn't just break that stratospheric glass ceiling — she blasted through it." Get to know all 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and click through for all the photos from today's ceremony.