On November 20, Dean Ryan Crocker joined President and Mrs. Obama and many of the winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a dinner at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Crocker received the medal from President George W. Bush in 2009.
The dinner was held in honor of the sixteen individuals who had received the medal earlier that day, and also commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Kennedy in 1963. Among those honored this year were former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, country music artist Loretta Lynn, women’s rights leader Gloria Steinem, baseball great Ernie Banks, and the late pioneering astronaut Sally Ride.
In his remarks, Obama noted that President Kennedy established the medal as a way to honor extraordinary civilian virtue, particularly contributions to the nation and its democracy, and a dedication to humanity.
He noted that over the years, the Presidential Medal of Freedom has recognized the creativity of writers, artists, and entertainers; the leadership of elected officials and public servants; and the contributions of scientists, business leaders, and athletes “because there is no one way to contribute to the success of America.”