“They haven’t let me in to the White House yet because I forgot my ID,” the actor and comedian tweeted hours before the very important ceremony. “#NotJoking.”
DeGeneres was one of 21 people invited to the White House to be honored by the president with the Medal of Freedom ― considered the highest civilian award one can receive in the United States.
She was honored alongside some of the most revered and groundbreaking performers, scientists, public servants, engineers, activists and artists in the world, including Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Jordan, Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels, Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen.
After White House security allowed DeGeneres to enter the building, she and her fellow honorees celebrated with a mannequin challenge, featuring perhaps the most impressive and star-studded group the viral challenge has ever seen.
“I’m in,” the host tweeted from inside the presidential digs.
During the official ceremony, it wasn’t lost on Obama just how special DeGeneres is to many Americans. The president even appeared to choke up for a moment while he shared his thoughts on the 58-year-old TV host.
“It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law, just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago,” Obama said of DeGeneres’s career.
He described DeGeneres as someone “so full of kindness and light,” who unifies the country by showing people that they have more in common than they realize.
“What an incredible burden that was to bear,” the president said.
“Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together,” the president continued. She “inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time.”
When DeGeneres walked to the podium to receive the medal from Obama, there was no shortage of tears.
DeGeneres finished off her momentous visit with a selfie with wife Portia de Rossi, but she was left with one very important question.
The president “just awarded me the #MedalofFreedom,” she tweeted after the ceremony. “I hope it serves as an ID. I have no idea how I’m getting home.”