WASHINGTON -- Former President Bill Clinton is headed back to the White House -- just for a day -- and Oprah is coming, too.
Clinton and Oprah Winfrey will be among 16 people that President Barack Obama will venerate later this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday. They'll join other prominent people to be honored this year, including musicians, scientists, activists -- even an astronaut.
Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy created the modern version of the medal -- the highest honor the U.S. bestows on civilians. In the five decades since, more than 500 people have been recognized for contributions to society of all stripes.
Others who will receive the medal include:
n Daniel Inouye, former senator from Hawaii, World War II veteran and the first Japanese American in Congress. Inouye will receive the award posthumously.
n Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post who oversaw the newspaper's coverage of Watergate.
n Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. Ride will receive the award posthumously.
n Gloria Steinem, writer and prominent women's rights activist.
n Bayard Rustin, civil and gay rights activist and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin will receive the award posthumously.
n Loretta Lynn, country music singer.
n Ernie Banks, baseball player who hit more than 500 home runs and played 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
--Arturo Sandoval, Grammy-winning jazz musician who was born in Cuba and defected to the U.S.
--Dean Smith, head coach of University of North Carolina's basketball team for 36 years.
--Patricia Wald, first woman appointed to U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and became the court's chief judge.
--C.T. Vivian, civil rights leader and minister.
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