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Actor Sidney Poitier among Medal of Freedom winners

Photo: Chuck Kennedy/White House

A special ceremony at the White House last night honored 16 super achievers with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom. In the photo above, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson congratulates fellow medal recipient, Actor Sidney Poitier. The other medal winners included Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Scientist Stephen Hawking, Tennis Star Billie Jean King, Entertainer Chita Rivera, and Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

In his remarks, President Obama praised the medal winners for their incredible achievements: “The recipients of the Medal of Freedom did not set out to win this or any other award. They did not set out in pursuit of glory or fame or riches. Rather, they set out, guided by passion, committed to hard work, aided by persistence, often with few advantages but the gifts, grace, and good name God gave them.”

More of the president’s remarks and a full list of the 2009 Medal of Freedom award winners on the White House blog.

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