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The presidential Medal of Freedom was established by John F. Kennedy in 1963 as the highest civilian award in the United States.

It is bestowed by the president of the United States to those who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The 600-plus people who have received this award are among the greatest performers, humanitarians, and athletes who ever lived.

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