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The Ford's Theatre Society took time last evening to award two well-known men the Lincoln Medal of Honor for their contributions to society.
Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and actor and humanitarian Morgan Freeman both received the award, which is given out annually to those who embody the spirit of the 16th U.S. President.
"To be connected to Lincoln, for whom freedom was so important, means something to me," said Wiesel on the sidelines of the ceremony at Ford's Theatre — the same place where Lincoln was killed in 1865.
Wiesel escaped a World War II concentration camp in 1945, but not before losing his mother and a sibling. The bestselling author has since then dedicated his life to teaching tolerance.
Morgan Freeman was also recognized for the millions of dollars he has donated in educational scholarships, and for the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
"This is a big deal. This is a moment in life," Freeman said.
Wayne Reynolds, the head of the society's board of trustees pointed out that the awards help to bridge an important gap between one of the great leaders of the past and present-day trailblazers.
"So young people can not only learn about who Lincoln was, but also why his personal lessons of leadership matter to their own lives," Reynolds said.