U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday honoured an Oscar-winning actor, a bluegrass-country singer, a conservative think tank and others with two of the most prestigious national awards in the arts and humanities.
It was the first time during his nearly three-year-old presidency that Trump has awarded the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal.
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Honorees included Jon Voight, one of the few Hollywood actors who is an outspoken backer of Trump. Voight, one of four winners of the National Medal of Arts, later accompanied Trump to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to pay tribute to the remains of two U.S. service members who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan this week.
The White House ceremony marked a rare warm moment between artists and Trump. The president has had a chilly relationship with a broad swath of Hollywood and the arts world, which have shunned Trump over his immigration policies, his Supreme Court picks, his administration’s efforts to roll back abortion rights and other issues.
“Each of today’s recipients has made an outstanding contribution to American society, culture and life,” Trump said. “They exemplify the genius, talent and creativity of our exceptional nation.”
Voight, who stars in the Showtime drama Ray Donovan, won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of a troubled Vietnam War veteran in the 1978 film Coming Home and starred in the 1969 Oscar-winning best picture Midnight Cowboy.
The other recipients of the National Medal of Arts were Alison Krauss, a Grammy-winning bluegrass-country musician; Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the CEO of Washington’s flagship public television and radio stations; and the musicians of the U.S. military.
The National Humanities Medal recipients were Teresa Lozano Long, a Texas philanthropist; Patrick O’Connell, the chef and proprietor of the restaurant The Inn At Little Washington in Virginia; mystery writer James Patterson; and the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank based in California.