The talk show host was one of 21 stars who received the medal from President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the East Room on Tuesday (November 22) in Washington, D.C.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor that a U.S. civilian can receive and Ellen teared up while being given her medal.
“In a career spanning three decades, Ellen DeGeneres has lifted our spirits and brought joy to our lives as a stand-up comic, actor, and television star. In every role, she reminds us to be kind to one another and to treat people as each of us wants to be treated. At pivotal moments, her courage and candor helped change the minds and hearts of millions of Americans, accelerating our nation’s constant drive toward equality and acceptance for all,” the announcer said while she stood on stage with Obama. “Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place, so long as we ‘just keep swimming.’”
Other stars who received the medal included Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Redford, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, basketball players Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill and Melinda Gates, and more.