Sir Elton John became emotional after being presented with the National Humanities Medal at the White House on Friday.
The 75-year-old singer received the award from US President Joe Biden, 79, for his music career and his work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, after he performed on the South Lawn of the White House.
The President said: "We're joined by so many people that ... he's set free to be themselves, to be treated with dignity and respect they deserve. Families and advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS. A fight that he has led with sheer will, a fight for those lives lost and those lives we can save. Leaders standing up for equality of all people, no matter who you are, or who you love."
A visibly moved Elton said: "I'm never flabbergasted, but I'm flabbergasted and humbled and honoured by this incredible award from the United States of America. I will treasure this so much, and it will make me double my efforts to make sure this disease goes away. America’s kindness to me as a musician is second to none, but in the war against AIDS and HIV it’s even bigger."
Elton performed a selection of his hits including 'Your Song', 'Tiny Dancer', 'Rocketman', 'Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me', 'Crocodile Rock' and 'I’m Still Standing' for a crowd that included the President and First Lady Jill Biden, his husband David Furnish, Laura Bush, Billie Jean King, Ruby Bridges, British Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce, Malala Yousafzai, and cabinet secretaries including Attorney General Merrick Garland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Joking about his surroundings, he told the audience: "I don’t know what to say. What a dump."
He added: "I’ve played in some places before that are beautiful, but this is probably the icing on the cake. It’s wonderful to be here among people who have helped my foundation and my heroes, the ones that work every day on the front line. Teachers, nurses, everybody who has helped. They’re the heroes to me."
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