President Barack Obama awarded Presidential Medals of Freedom today at the White House to Bob Dylan John Glenn, John Paul Stevens, Madeleine Albright, Shimon Peres, Jan Karski, John Doar, William Foege, Dolores Huerta, Juliette Gordon Low, Pat Summitt, and Gordon Hirabayashi. The award is the highest honor a president can give to a civilian.
When delivering his brief remarks about each honoree, President Obama thanked musician Bob Dylan for opening up his "world."
"I remember in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something that -- about this country that was so vital," Obama said. The president also noted that he's "a really big fan."
Bob Dylan started out singing other people’s songs. But, as he says, “There came a point where I had to write what I wanted to say, because what I wanted to say, nobody else was writing.” So born in Hibbing, Minnesota -- a town, he says, where “you couldn’t be a rebel -- it was too cold” -- (laughter) -- Bob moved to New York at age 19. By the time he was 23, Bob’s voice, with its weight, its unique, gravelly power was redefining not just what music sounded like, but the message it carried and how it made people feel. Today, everybody from Bruce Springsteen to U2 owes Bob a debt of gratitude. There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music. All these years later, he’s still chasing that sound, still searching for a little bit of truth. And I have to say that I am a really big fan.
Rosie Gray reports that she believes Obama made a gaffe when awarding Jan Karski: "The president referred to 'Polish death camps' while awarding a posthumous Medal of Freedom to Polish professor Jan Karski, a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance. Poles believe they're blamed unfairly for the Nazi Holocaust."