Bob Dylan receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama, a big Dylan fan, presents the award to Bob Dylan in Washington

Bob Dylan stands quietly in dark sun glasses, seemingly unmoved by receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom ((MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Bob Dylan, the iconoclastic singer songwriter who started his career protesting against authority, quietly accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom in Washington on May 29, 2012.

“I have to say that I am a really big fan,” President Obama said of Dylan. “I remember, you know, in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something about this country that was so vital.”

Other honorees

The ceremony was a tribute to the 1960s activists who lead the United States through civil rights protests, space exploration, child health improvements, peace making and the arts.

The President also gave the award to Madeleine Albright, 64th United States Secretary of State; John Glenn, Mercury Astronaut and US Senator; John Doar, former Assistant US Attorney General and civil rights lawyer; William Foege, physician and epidemiologist; Gordon Hirabayashi, the Japanese American who fought the US government detainment during WWII; Dolores Huerta, advocate for civil rights, women’s and worker’s rights; Jan Karski, Polish officer in the Underground; Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts; Toni Morrison, novelist; Shimon Peres, former President of Israel, peacemaker; John Paul Stevens, long serving Justice of the Supreme Court; and Pat Summitt, former NCAA basketball coach, philanthropist and Alzheimer’s advocate.

President Obama said the awards were “a testament to how cool this group is. Everybody wanted to check ‘em out.” Read the full story on each recipient on The White House.

“These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation. They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place. I look forward to recognizing them with this award.”

Bob Dylan

President Obama places the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Bob Dylan (Charles Dharapak / AP)

The White House called Dylan “one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century, Dylan released his first album in 1962.”

“Known for his rich and poetic lyrics, his work had considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades. He has won 11 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award.”

“He was named a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Art et des Lettres and has received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Dylan was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts.

He has written more than 600 songs, and his songs have been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists.

He continues recording and touring around the world today.”

Dylan is just off his tour of Latin America and Mexico and rumors have surfaced of a 35th studio album due in September 2012.

Bob Dylan, on the harmonica, performing in Argentina April 2012 (Photo Adrian Lasso, Creative Commons)

Dylan turned 71 in May 2012 and has not stopped performing, innovating and touring.

His road tour has been dubbed The Never Ending Tour since it’s start on June 7, 1988.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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