A diverse group of 16 men and women from all walks of life were honored today in the White House, as President Obama presented them with the Medal of Freedom. The medal stands as the nation's highest honor available to civilians. "At a moment when cynicism and doubt too often prevail...these agents of change remind us that excellence is not beyond our abilities, that hope lies around the corner and that justice can still be won in the forgotten corners of this world," the president said. Those honored included pioneering actor Sidney Poitier, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King and Senator Ted Kennedy, among others. The award was created by President Truman, who wished to honor citizens' service during World War II, CNN reports.