U.S. President Barack Obama will award the nation's highest civilian honor -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- to 16 Americans in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday.
One of Mr. Obama's predecessors, John F. Kennedy, established the award 50 years ago to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to other significant public or private endeavors.
The recipients this year include a former president , a country music legend , a renown women's rights activist and a television icon .
Mr. Obama said this year's honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent. But he said what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world.
Three of the 16 Medals of Freedom will be awarded posthumously.