1. US President Barack Obama stepping up to podium, medal recipients behind, people applauding
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President: ++ ZOOM IN TO OBAMA DURING SOUNDBITE ++
"This is one of my favourite events. Once a year, we set aside this event to celebrate people who have made America stronger and wiser, and more humane, and more beautiful with our highest civilian honour - the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This year, we honour 18."
3. Actress Meryl Streep receiving Medal of Freedom
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President:
"The Onion (satirical website) once ran this headline: Court rules Meryl Streep unable to be tried by jury as she has no peers. I think this is like the third or fourth award Meryl's gotten since I've been in office."
5. Singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder receiving Medal of Freedom
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President:
"And then there's Stevie. Don't get Michelle talking about Stevie Wonder. Early copies of Stevie Wonder's classic album 'Talking Book' had a simple message written in braille. 'Here is my music, it is all I have to tell you how I feel, know that your love keeps my love strong.' This is, by the way, the first album I ever bought with my own money."
7. Obama and Wonder hugging
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President:
"For more than 50 years, Stevie has channelled his inner visions into messages of hope and healing, and becoming one of the most influential musicians in American history. A musical prodigy, with an electrifying voice."
9. Chilean writer Isabel Allende receiving Medal of Freedom
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Barack Obama, US President:
"When Isabel Allende learned that her grandfather in Chile was dying, she started writing him a letter. Night after night she returned to it until she realised she was writing her first novel. She never really stopped. Her novels and memoirs tell of families and magic, romance, opression, violence, redemption."
11. Pan left of recipients, Obama and audience applauding
12. Zoom out of Obama and audience applauding recipients
United States President Barack Obama said on Monday that this year's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom made the world stronger, wiser, more beautiful and more humane.
Obama praised the 18 artists, activists and lawmakers receiving the award at a White House ceremony.
Among the recipients were Ethel Kennedy, actress Meryl Streep and singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder.
Obama called Wonder "a musical prodigy" whose warmth and humanity can be heard in every note of his music.
Others receiving the award included NBC journalist Tom Brokaw, author Isabel Allende and Representative John Dingell, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of Congress who is retiring at the end of the year.
The list also included Native American activist Suzan Harjo, actress Marlo Thomas, economist Robert Solow, golfer Charles Sifford, former Representative Abner Mikva of Illinois and physicist Mildred Dresselhaus.
Posthumous medals went to six individuals, among them civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were slain in 1964 as they participated in a historic voter registration drive in Mississippi.
Other posthumous awards were for choreographer Alvin Ailey and Representative Patsy Mink of Hawaii and Edward Roybal of California, founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is reserved for individuals who have made "meritorious contributions" to US security, world peace or cultural endeavours.
"This is one of my favourite events," Obama said from the East Room.
Composer Stephen Sondheim was scheduled to receive the award, but Obama said he couldn't make it and will be included in next year's class of honourees.