Obama honors Medal of Freedom recipients as heroes

NANCY BENAC
Associated Press
President Barack Obama presents rock legend Bob Dylan with a Medal of Freedom,  Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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President Barack Obama presents rock legend Bob Dylan with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sketching impressive contributions to society in intensely personal terms, President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Freedom to more than a dozen political and cultural greats Tuesday, including rocker Bob Dylan, astronaut John Glenn and novelist Toni Morrison.

In awarding the nation's highest civilian honor to 13 recipients, living and dead, the president took note of the overflow crowd in the East Room and said it was "a testament to how cool this group is. Everybody wanted to check 'em out."

Obama then spoke of his personal connection to a number of this year's recipients, calling them "my heroes individually."

"I know how they impacted my life," the president said. He recalled reading Morrison's "Song of Solomon" in his youth and "not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to thin