When CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer asked Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) what receiving the Medal of Freedom meant to him, the congressman took a pause and replied, "everything."
A leader in the American civil rights movement, Lewis was presented the nation's highest civilian honor at the White House Tuesday.
"To receive it from President Barack Obama during African-American history month, by the first African-American president is so moving," the congressman said Thursday. "It is almost unreal, is almost unbelievable."
"We have come a distance and I tell young people- blacks, whites, Latinos, Asian American, Native American- that we live in a better world," Lewis told Schieffer on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged."
At the ceremony, Mr. Obama called Lewis the "conscience" of Congress and said Lewis "knew that change could not work for some other person or some other time."
Other civil rights leaders who have been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom include: the Rev. Dr. Josephy Lowery, longtime NAACP director Benjamin Hooks and Martin Luther King, Jr., posthumously.
"When I hear people saying 'nothing has changed,' I just say, 'come and walk in my shoes, I will show you it is a different world and our country is a different country, a better country and we are a better people,'" Lewis said.