President Barack Obama presented the United States' highest civilian honor to musician Bob Dylan, novelist Toni Morrison and 11 other people at a White House ceremony on Tuesday.
"What sets these men and women apart is the incredible impact they have had on so many people," Obama said, as he awarded them the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Reuters reported. "They have enriched our lives and they have changed our lives for the better."
More from GlobalPost: Supermoon over Obama
Obama also awarded the prize to Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, Dr. William Foege, who led efforts to eradicate smallpox, John Glenn, first American to orbit the earth in 1962, former Israeli President Shimon Peres and Jan Karski.
Karski was an officer in the Polish underground who carried his eye-witness account of the Nazi Holocaust to the outside world, according to the Washington Post.
Bloomberg wrote Peres will receive his award at a separate White House event next month. Obama said Peres “has done more for the cause of peace in the Middle East than just about anybody alive.”
The Post said other notable honorees included John Doar, a key figure in the Justice Department during the 1960s, civil rights campaigner Dolores Huerta, Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, women's basketball coach and Alzheimer's advocate Pat Summitt and Gordon Hirabayashi, who fought Japanese-American internment during World War Two.