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Obama awards medals to arts and humanities honorees

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama says 24 recipients of national medals for contributions in the fields of the arts and humanities are being recognized for their talent and creating works that will last for American life.

At a ceremony Wednesday in the East Room of the White House, Obama awarded the medals to 23 singers, dancers, poets, producers, playwrights, scholars and others, and one organization.

President Barack Obama hugs director George Lucas before presenting him with the 2012 National Medal of Arts, Wednesday, July 10, 2013, during a ceremony in the East Room of White House in Washington. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Among those receiving a National Medal of Arts are musician Herb Alpert, filmmaker George Lucas and the Washington Performing Arts Society.

"We celebrate people like our honorees here today," the president said in his remarks, "not just because of their talent, but they create something new. They create a new space, and that becomes a lasting contribution to American life and that's true for all of these honorees. Together, the men and women with us today have helped us appreciate individual talent...they've also helped us to bridge our differences, to recognize all the things we share as Americans -- whether it's arts, humanities or sports."

Recipients of the National Humanities Medal include author Joan Didion, sportswriter Frank Deford and Robert B. Silvers, editor and co-founder of The New York Review of Books.

"The work that we honor today - the lifetime achievement of these artists and these scholars - remind us the human imagination is still the most powerful tool we have as a people," said Obama.

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