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Video shows Elton John tearing up when President Joe Biden surprised him with a humanities medal following a White House concert

INSIDER 9/24/2022 ashoaib@insider.com (Alia Shoaib)
U.S. President Joe Biden (R) presents British singer-songwriter Sir Elton John (2nd L) with the National Humanities Medal as first lady Jill Biden (L) looks on during an event on the South Lawn of the White House on September 23, 2022 in Washington, DC. lex Wong/Getty Images © lex Wong/Getty Images U.S. President Joe Biden (R) presents British singer-songwriter Sir Elton John (2nd L) with the National Humanities Medal as first lady Jill Biden (L) looks on during an event on the South Lawn of the White House on September 23, 2022 in Washington, DC. lex Wong/Getty Images
  • President Joe Biden surprised Elton John with a medal at a White House concert.
  • Biden thanked the singer for "moving the soul of our nation" and praised his advocacy work combatting HIV/AIDS.
  • John was visibly moved and said he was "flabbergasted and humbled and honored."

British singer Sir Elton John teared up when President Joe Biden surprised him with a National Humanities Medal at a concert at the White House on Friday night.

"Tonight is my great honor, and I mean this sincerely, to present the National Humanities Medal to Sir Elton John," Biden said.

An announcer elaborated that Biden was awarding John the medal for "moving our souls with his powerful voice" and for his legacy of advocacy.

 

John, 75, has long worked as an activist to combat HIV/AIDS and founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1991.

The singer appeared visibly shocked and, at one point, wiped tears from his eyes before embracing the president.

"I just said to the First Lady that I'm never flabbergasted, but I'm flabbergasted and humbled and honored by this incredible award from the United States of America," said the famed singer.

"I will treasure this so much, and it will make me double my efforts to make sure this disease goes away," John said.

John performed on the South Lawn as part of A+E and History's "A Night When Hope and History Rhyme." 

The guest list included teachers, frontline workers, and LGBTQ advocates, as well-known figures including Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, former First Lady Laura Bush, Anna Kendrick, and activist Malala Yousafzai, according to Variety.

"It's wonderful to be here among so many people who have helped my Aids foundation and my heroes, the ones that work day to day on the frontline, teachers, nurses, everybody who's helped," John said before performing.

Over the course of the evening, he played several of his hit songs, including "Tiny Dancer," "Rocket Man," and "Your Song," according to Variety.

"On behalf of the American people, thank you, and I sincerely mean this, thank you for moving the soul of our nation," Biden said while speaking about the singer.

The National Humanities Medal, which was inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened America's understanding of the humanities.

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