(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama presented the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal to 17 recipients Monday in the East Room at the White House.
They included actor Al Pacino, country music artist Mel Tillis, poet John Ashbery and 100-year-old painter/printmaker Will Barnet.
Obama said the honorees each “left an indelible mark on American culture” by their achievements in the arts and humanities.
“In moments of calm, as in moments of crisis; in times of triumph, as in times of tragedy: you help guide our growth as a people,” Obama told the honorees. “The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone. There is not one of us here who hasn’t had their beliefs challenged by a writer’s eloquence; or their knowledge deepened by a historian’s insights; or their sagging spirits lifted by a singer’s voice. Those are some of the most endearing and memorable moments in our lives.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio