Ellen DeGeneres teared up while receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House Tuesday.
DeGeneres, who has hosted her daytime talk show for 12 years, was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. The comedian was clearly moved when a White House aide was rattling off her accomplishments.
"At a pivotal moment, her courage and candor helped changed the minds of millions of Americans, accelerating our nations constant drive toward equality and acceptance for all," the aide said.
This was clearly in reference to DeGeneres coming out as gay in 1997, at a time when very few celebrities were out publicly. She has also made plenty of references to her wife, Portia de Rossi, throughout the run of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, helping to bring prominent same-sex relationships into the mainstream.
The aide also made a reference to Dory, her iconic character at the heart of both Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and her famous catchphrase.
"Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place - so long as we just keep swimming," the aide said.
President Obama had his own kind words for DeGeneres, praising her bravery in coming out and helping make America a more accepting place.
"What an incredible burden that was to bear - to risk your career like that - people don't do that very often. And then, to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders," he said. "It's like Ellen says: we all want a tortilla chip that can support the weight of guacamole... Which really makes no sense to me, but I thought would break the mood because I was getting kind of choked up."
Other celebrities honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom included Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Robert Redford and Cicely Tyson.