Last night, Ellen received the Presidential Medal of Honor. She stood with a small group of other folks, including Michael Jordan and Tom Hanks, as a small speech was read about each recipient.
The event began with President Obama reading a speech about each soon-to-be-recipient. During this part, Ellen was able to laugh and smile. It was only towards the end that she began to appear emotional. By the end of the speech, even President Obama was getting choked up. And with good reason. What Ellen did when she publicly came out, decades before today, put her career and safety in jeopardy. But it also helped to pave the way forward for many .
President Obama said:
It's easy to forget now, when we've come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law, just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages 20 years ago. Just how important it was, not just to the LGBT community but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light, somebody we liked so much - somebody who could be our neighbour or our colleague or our sister - challenge us on our assumptions; remind us that we have more in common than we realise, push our country in the direction of justice. What an incredible burden that was to bear. To risk your career like that - people don't do that very often. But it's like Ellen says, we all want a tortilla chip that can support the weight of guacamole, which really makes no sense to me but I thought would break the mood because I was getting kind of choked up. And she did pay a price. We don't remember this. I hadn't remembered it. She did, for a pretty long stretch of time, even in Hollywood. And yet today, every day, in every way, Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together, inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time.If that wasn't enough, Ellen then heard another short speech when she joined President Obama on stage to receive the physical medal. Good luck not tearing up while you watch. My eyes haven't been dry since I began researching this article. Congratulations, Ellen. You deserve this and so much more.
H/T: EW, Glamour