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Barack Obama has reminded us what we all forgot about Ellen DeGeneres.

Outgoing US president Barack Obama has awarded comedian Ellen DeGeneres with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. And his speech to the talk show host and Finding Dory star has left us feeling all the feels and reflecting on why the celebration was just so important.

Taking time out from his transition meetings with president-elect Donald Trump, Obama awarded 21 iconic Americans with the medals during a White House ceremony on Tuesday, but even with big names like Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro in the room, it was DeGeneres, and the speech given in her honour, that truly stole the show.

obama awards ellen presidential medal of honour
Obama presents Ellen with her Presidential Medal of Honour. Source: Getty.

"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 20 years ago," 55-year-old Obama began.

"Just how important it was, not just to the LGBT community but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light, somebody we liked so much - somebody who could be our neighbour or our colleague or our sister - challenge us on our assumptions; remind us that we have more in common than we realise, push our country in the direction of justice. What an incredible burden that was to bear," he continued. "To risk your career like that - people don't do that very often."

obama awards ellen presidential medal of honour
Obama presents Ellen with her Presidential Medal of Honour. Source: Getty.
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Degeneres came out as gay while on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997.

At the time, her self-titled sitcom was enjoying top ratings and she was a national television star. And in the interest of life imitating art, Ellen also came out in the sitcom months later. But despite that, the show was cancelled in 1998, with sources claiming the network was uncomfortable with the subject matter of the show.

obama awards ellen presidential medal of honour
Ellen DeGeneres at the premiere of G.I. Jane in 1997. Source: Getty.

It wasn't until 2001 that DeGeneres returned to our screens, with the now globally adored Ellen Show launching two years later in 2003.

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Getting visibly emotional during his speech, Obama joked, "But it's like Ellen says, we all want a tortilla chip that can support the weight of guacamole, which really makes no sense to me but I thought would break the mood because I was getting kind of choked up."

He continued, "And she did pay a price. We don't remember this. I hadn't remembered it. She did, for a pretty long stretch of time, even in Hollywood. And yet today, every day, in every way, Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together, inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time."

58-year-old DeGeneres, who married her long-term partner Portia de Rossi in 2008, fought back tears during Obama's speech before receiving her medal and sharing an embrace with the outgoing President.

Established by JFK in 1963, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the US, and is bestowed by the President to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to the nation.

obama awards ellen presidential medal of honour
Obama presents Ellen with her Presidential Medal of Honour. Source: Youtube.

At a time when same-sex marriage looks to be at least another three years away and our parliament is filled with more hateful and divisive rhetoric than ever before, it's hard to imagine an Australian Prime Minister ever delivering such an impassioned speech celebrating an individual.

So seriously America, if you're done with Obama, can we have him?

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