Sketching impressive contributions to society in intensely personal terms, President Obama presented the Medal of Freedom to more than a dozen political and cultural greats Tuesday, including rocker Bob Dylan, astronaut John Glenn and novelist Toni Morrison.

In awarding the nation’s highest civilian honor to 13 recipients, living and dead, the president took note of the overflow crowd in the East Room and said it was “a testament to how cool this group is. Everybody wanted to check ’em out.”

Obama then spoke of his personal connection to a number of this year’s recipients, calling them “my heroes individually.”

“I know how they impacted my life,” the president said. He recalled reading Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” in his youth and “not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to think.”

In college days, Obama said, he listened to Dylan and recalled “my world opening up, because he captured something about this country that was so vital.” Dylan’s appearance drew the biggest whoops from the crowd, and he dressed for the event – sunglasses, bow tie and black suit embellished with shiny buckles and buttons.

Obama added that Pat Summitt, who led the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team to more NCAA Final Four appearances than any other team, had helped pave the way for his two daughters, “who are tall and gifted.”

“They’re standing up straight and diving after loose balls and feeling confident and strong,” he said. “I understand that the impact that these people have had extends beyond me. It will continue for generations to come.”

Other honorees are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; John Paul Stevens, former Supreme Court justice; Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts; Shimon Peres, president of Israel; John Doar, assistant attorney general in the 1960s; William Foege, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Gordon Hirabayashi, who fought the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; and Jan Karski, who fought against the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Dinklage will push farm animals’ cause

In “Game of Thrones,” Peter Dinklage’s character is constantly steeped in battle over control of a mythical kingdom. After the season finale Sunday, Dinklage plans to take his fight to the farm.

Dinklage, 43, will spend his off season promoting a campaign to change the way society treats farm animals as national spokesman for Farm Sanctuary’s annual Walk for Farm Animals.

The actor, who has been a vegetarian since he was 16, has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in the HBO series. He said he joined the cause because he felt “animals used for food are treated like unfeeling machinery.”

Farm Sanctuary will put on walks in more than 35 U.S. cities this fall.

Rodman gets service work and probation

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, known for his rebounding skills and wild off-court behavior, was sentenced Tuesday in Orange, Calif., to 104 hours of community service after being found guilty last year of contempt for failing to pay child support.

The ruling also placed Rodman, 51, on three years of informal probation.

It was the latest development in a series of legal disputes that began in 2004, when Rodman’s wife at the time filed for divorce.

Rodman still faces additional contempt charges and is accused of owing back child support in an amount that attorneys for Michelle Rodman, his ex-wife, say exceeds $800,000.

“It’s all about the kids,” Rodman said of the ex-couple’s two children, ages 10 and 11, after the hearing. “It does suck, the fact that it had to come to this.”