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Confessions of a hopeless patriot

As I've said here before: I'm the guy who actually reads the President's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation every year.  I'm the guy who, during the saying of Grace at the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, pauses to say a few words about our troops overseas--especially those I know and have been in contact with that day to thank them for their service.  Today at the White House, another event I always try to watch, every year, under every president: The Presidential Medal of Freedom was appointed today to 15 recipients, one more amazing than the next.  Producer Megan Marcus is compiling them all for our broadcast tonight, but below is the roster of recipients.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the East Room during portions of the ceremony.  It was lovely to watch, and I happen to know I wasn't the only one in our newsroom with tears in my eyes while watching. It's one of the great honors we bestow as a nation, and one of the great things presidents get to do. If you have the time or inclination, watch the raw feed of the ceremony below  If you're inclined to watch Nightly News, we'll show you the best of the ceremony.  Either way, I do hope you can join us tonight.

Medal of Freedom Recipients

Former President George H.W. Bush

Basketball star Bill Russell

Businessman Warren Buffett

Civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

John H. Adams, co-founder of Natural Resources Defense Council

Maya Angelou, poet and author

Jasper Johns, artist

Gerda Weissmann Klein, Holocaust survivor and author

Dr. Tom Little (posthumous), optometrist murdered on humanitarian mission in Afghanistan

Sylvia Mendez, civil rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent

Stan Musial, Hall of Fame baseball player

Bill Russell, professional basketball player and first African American to coach in the NBA

Jean Kennedy Smith, founder of VSA, a non-profit organization that promotes the artistic talents of people with disabilities

John J. Sweeney, President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO