President Obama hands out Presidential Medal of Freedom awards

(Reuters) - US President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, to a star-studded list of Americans for their accomplishments in public service, entertainment and sports.

Among them - singer and actress Barbra Streisand and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

"Steven's films are marked, most importantly, by a faith in our common humanity," Mr Obama says. "The same faith in humanity that led him to create the Shoah foundation, and lend a voice to survivors of genocide around the world. His story has shaped America's stories, and his values have shaped our world."

Obama credited another medal recipient, baseball great Willie Mays, for his own success.

He says, "It's because of giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for president."

Singer James Taylor was also awarded the metal.

As was Gloria Estefan, Grammy Award-winning Cuban-American singer, and her husband Emilio Estefan, a producer and songwriter.