Legendary singer Elton John has been honoured with National Humanities Medal at the White House by President Joe Biden of the United States.
The legendary singer Elton John was given the award after a short concert on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday evening much to his surprise. The event was tagged “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme.”
According to the report by Deadline, John was recognized as “an enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found the purpose to challenge convention, shatter stigma and advance the simple truth, that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
He held First Lady Jill Biden’s hand for a bit before Biden placed the medal around his neck.
“I think we surprised him,” the president said.
“I’m never flabbergasted, but I’m flabbergasted and humbled and honoured by this incredible award from the United States of America,” John said, as he was close to tears.
“I will treasure this so much, and it will make me double my efforts to make sure this disease goes away. America’s kindness to me as a musician is second to none, but in the war against AIDS and HIV it’s even bigger.”
The event was sponsored and paid for by A&E Networks and The History Channel, which is holding the annual History Talks event in D.C. featuring a lineup of speakers including George and Laura Bush, George Clooney and Doria Kearns Goodwin.
The legendary singer Elton John sang Your Song, Tiny Dancer, Rocketman, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me, Crockidile Rock and I’m Still Standing.
As he first took the stage during the evening, he said, “I don’t know what to say. What a dump,” he quipped, before getting serious.
“I’ve played in some places before that are beautiful, but this is probably the icing on the cake. It’s wonderful to be here among people who have helped my foundation and my heroes, the ones that work every day on the front line. Teaches, nurses, everybody who has helped. They’re the heroes to me.”
The theme of the event was A Night When Hope and History Rhyme, and among those in attendance were Laura Bush, Billie Jean King, Ruby Bridges, British Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce, Malala Yousafzai, and cabinet secretaries including Attorney General Merrick Garland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
John talked of his activism for AIDS, noting that he has been advocating on the issue since 1991. He recalled getting involved after meeting Ryan White, the teenager who contracted AIDS and became a symbol of those suffering from the disease and the stigma they faced.
“Six months after Ryan passed, I got sober and clean.” He said that if it wasn’t for White and his family, “I wouldn’t be here talking tonight. They saved my life.”