WASHINGTON - Civil rights icon John Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, today from President Barack Obama.
Known as "The Conscience of the Congress, Lewis was honored along with poet Maya Angelou, basketball great and first black head coach Bill Russell, civil rights activist Slyvia Mendez and 11 others.
Upon learning of the award, the congressman was moved to tears. Said Lewis, "I was just moved, I was just touched. I feel more than lucky, but very blessed."
The other honorees were:
President George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
John H. Adams, co-founder the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970.
Warren Buffett, American investor, industrialist, and philanthropist.
Jasper Johns, American artist
Gerda Weissmann Klein, Jewish Holocaust survivor, author
Dr. Tom Little (Posthumous), humanitarian
Yo-Yo Ma, cellist
Stan Musial, baseball legend and Hall of Fame first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals
Jean Kennedy Smith, founder VSA, a non-profit organization affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center that promotes the artistic talents of children, youth and adults with disabilities.
John J. Sweeney, current President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, and served as President of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009.