What Is the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Photo Courtesy: Pool/Getty Images

While Americans can be recognized for their excellence with various awards, only one can be bestowed upon them by the President of the United States. The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor one can attain, celebrates those who make indelible contributions to their fields — and to the country. The medal has a long history, dating back to President John F. Kennedy, and it has been awarded to some of the most iconic and influential Americans of the 20th and 21st centuries. So, how did the medal come to be?