Steven Spielberg. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Steven Spielberg. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Director Steven Spielberg, conductor Itzhak Perlman, composer Stephen Sondheim and singers Barbra Streisand and James Taylor were among 17 people named Monday recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans,” President Barack Obama said.

The Medal of Freedom is presented to people “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.

Also among those chosen to receive the honor were Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress; Bonnie Carroll, founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which supports families of people who have died while serving in the military; and musicians Emilio and Gloria Estefan;

Former baseball players Willie Mays and the late Yogi Berra will also be honored.

The medals will be presented at the White House on Nov. 24.

— City News Service 

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