The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States. It was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to honor service during WWII. President John F. Kennedy revived the medal and began the tradition of awarding the medal annually, on or near July 4. The award is awarded to several people annually. Unlike many other US awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom can be awarded to non-US citizens.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Some recent winners:
(List from here (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0002285), and hopefully other people can join in with the typing.)