President Obama will give the Medal of Freedom to 15 more honorees early next year, including George HW Bush and Warren Buffett. The list of recipients, released today, runs the gamut from sports greats (baseball legend Stan Musial and basketball great Bill Russell) to civil rights pioneers (Sylvia Mendez, who helped integrate schools, and Rep. John Lewis, who helped organize the 1959 lunch counter sit-in and the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery).
"All of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place," Obama said in a statement. America's highest civilian honor will also be given to cellist Yo-Yo Ma, painter Jasper Johns, poet Maya Angelou, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein, labor leader John J. Sweeney, former Ireland ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council John H. Adams. A posthumous award will be given to Tom Little, an aid worker killed in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reports.
(Read more Presidential Medal of Freedom stories.)