Let’s talk heroes for a second, because yesterday, one of mine was awarded a very special honor. This man who is known for writing songs with anti-war and pro-civil rights themes, and who has been producing music for nearly 5 decades now, is none other than mister Bob Dylan. Time Magazine called him a “master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation” and included him in their list of the Most Important People of the Century. Yesterday, President Obama presented this legendary musical genius with what I believe to be a well-deserved Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ian Duncan of the LA Times reports,
“President Obama pinned the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Bob Dylan’s neck as the singer stood in the White House inscrutable in black sunglasses.
“I have to say that I am a really big fan,” Obama said as he introduced Dylan, one of a number of figures from the struggles and accomplishments of the 1960s, as well as other eras, whom Obama chose to honor Tuesday. Labor leader and civil rights campaigner Dolores Huerta and astronaut John Glenn also received the medal.
“I remember, you know, in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something about this country that was so vital,” Obama said.
The president said many of the recipients had had a personal effect on his life. The year 1962 looms especially large in Obama’s picks: That was the year Dylan put out his first album, Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers Assn. and Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.
The medal is the country’s highest civilian honor and the president has wide latitude in choosing recipients. It is awarded to people who have made major contributions to the security of the United States, world peace or culture, or have undertaken “other significant public or private endeavors.” “
I can’t seem to get away from “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” I listen to this song and cannot believe that it is still just as relevant today as it was when Dylan first released it back in the ’60s as a sort of civil-rights awareness anthem. But the times are still a’changin’, every day, and so the song spans decades. It makes me real happy to see a man who has had such an impact on the country receive such a prestigious award. And now I’ll probably be listening to Bob Dylan for the next week straight.