The voice of a well-known forgetful fish just kept swimming all the way to the White House, where she was presented with the highest civilian award in America.
Ellen DeGeneres received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The Medal of Freedom is given to a few select “individuals 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.”
Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Lorne Michaels, Margaret H. Hamilton, Frank Gehry, and Bill and Melinda Gates were among the twenty other awesome entertainers, scientists, athletes and artists who were also recognized.
Ellen was praised for her work with spreading acceptance of the LGBT community. She won the award not only for her witty sense of humor we all adore, but for her job of changing the way we think about sexuality.
Obama said that Ellen’s decision to come out on both her sitcom and on national television on the Oprah Winfrey show about twenty years ago, was important to all of us. Ellen DeGeneres “challenged our own assumptions” about sexuality. The comedian risked her career to tell the country that it’s okay to be who you are and love who you love.
The rest of us probably wouldn’t have the guts to do something like that. Hell, some of us barely have the guts call our boss to tell them we need to call in “sick.”
In the middle of the awards ceremony, Obama admitted that he was getting kind of choked up, and Ellen started tearing up next to him, and then the following day the whole country began sobbing over their laptops. (Don’t worry though, they were all happy tears.)
I think we can all agree that Ellen has worked her butt off to get where she is today. She began her career as a stand up comedian, and then starred in the sitcom “Ellen” for four years. She was an actress in movies such as “Finding Nemo” and currently hosts her own talk show where she interviews celebrity guests, pulls the best pranks and dances freely through the audience.
America now has another wonderful reason to love this inspiring woman. Besides being hilarious, she’s taught the world a pretty valuable lesson: to just keep swimming.