Dylan, 71, was one of 13 persons to receive the award Tuesday afternoon from President Obama at the White House. The medal honors “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States or to world peace or to cultural or other significant endeavors.” The award was established by President Kennedy in 1963. According to the New York Times: "President Obama said of Dylan, 'There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music.' Mr. Obama also praised Mr. Dylan’s voice for its 'weight' and 'unique gravelly power' that redefined 'not just what music sounded like but the message it carried and how it made people feel.' ”
"One of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century, Dylan released his first album in 1962. Known for his rich and poetic lyrics, his work had considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades. He has won 11 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award. He was named a Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Art et des Lettresand has received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Dylan was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts. He has written more than 600 songs, and his songs have been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists. He continues recording and touring around the world today."
For a photo gallery comprising all 13 recipients, go here.