President Joe Biden on Friday presented
out British singer Sir Elton John with the National Humanities Medal.
Biden surprised John with the honor
after he performed on the South Law of the White House.
Through his Elton John AIDS Foundation,
John has raised more than $600 million to support HIV-related
programs in numerous countries. The nonprofit is chaired by John's
husband, David Furnish.
In presenting the medal, the White
House said that it was to honor John for “moving our souls with his
powerful voice and one of the defining song books of all time. An
enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found purpose
to challenge convention, shatter stigma and advance the simple truth
that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
An emotional John thanked the
president, saying that he was “flabbergasted” and will “treasure”
“I think we surprised him,” Biden
told the crowd.
In an Instagram post, John captioned a
photo of himself and Furnish with the Bidens at the White House: “I'm
so honored and thankful to receive the National Humanities from
President @JoeBiden @whitehouse tonight, in recognition of my
contribution to music and work to end AIDS through @ejaf. Over the
past 30 years we've reached over 100 million people with testing and
treatment for HIV and AIDS. There is so much more to be done to reach
the most vulnerable communities – thank you to everyone who has
joined and supported us so far on our mission to make sure no one is
According to CNN, roughly 2,000 people
attended the concert, titled “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme.”