Biden surprises Elton John with National Humanities Medal at concert

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US President Joe Biden last Friday presented Sir Elton John with the National Humanities Medal, surprising the music icon after a performance on the South Lawn of the White House.

“I’m never amazed, but I’m amazed,” John said, visibly moved, thanking the president and saying he “will treasure” the honor.

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The medal, according to Friday’s presentation, was to honor John “for moving our souls with his powerful voice and one of the defining songbooks of all time. An enduring icon and advocate with sheer courage who has found purpose to defy convention, break stigma and promote the simple truth – that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden invited John to the White House to thank him and praised the singer for his music and advocacy in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

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“As Jill just mentioned, so many people have joined us who are now free to be themselves, to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Families and advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS. A fight he led with sheer will, a fight for the lives lost and the lives we can save. Leaders who stand for equality for all people, no matter who you are or who you love,” the president said.

John received a standing ovation as he performed several hit songs including “Your Song”, “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” during the show titled “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme” in collaboration with A&E Networks. and The History Channel.

Approximately 2,000 guests were invited to the event and attendees included high-profile guests and government officials such as civil rights advocate Ruby Bridges, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, as well as teachers, nurses, LGBTQ advocates and military families, which the White House dubbed an “everyday history maker.”

Speaking between songs, John addressed former First Lady Laura Bush, who was also present, acknowledging the “amazing” work of former President George W. on the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS crisis around the world.

“I want to say to the first lady that President Bush accelerated everything with his PEPFAR bill. It was the most amazing thing,” John said, asking Laura Bush to give her husband a hug on her behalf.

The fight to end the HIV epidemic, John said, is one of the few truly bipartisan issues in the US, adding, “I just wish America could be more bipartisan in everything.”

The night had moments of lightness, like when John lightened the mood by going on stage, joking: “I don’t know what to say. What rubbish”, drawing laughter from the participants. It also drew emotion, including when Biden was seen wiping away tears as John sang “Crocodile Rock.”

The singer visualized the song saying that it meant a lot to the president, who used to sing it with his children as he drove them to school. The White House pool reported that later in life, music helped Biden connect with his son Beau as he was dying of brain cancer and unable to communicate well.

Biden, who noted that his family “like so many Americans” loves John’s music, ended the program by thanking him.

“On behalf of the American people, thank you – and I sincerely mean this – for moving the soul of our nation,” he told John.

Source: CNN Brasil

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