"“Every human being has hundreds of separate people living inside his skin. And the talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have them relate to other characters living within him.” And that, I think, is what the arts and the humanities do -- they lift up our identities, and make us see ourselves in each other. And today’s honorees each possess a gift for this kind of creative empathy –- a gift that allows us to exchange a sense of what’s most important and most profound in us, and to identify with our collective experience as Americans." [quote credited to Mel Brooks]
"... today’s recipients of the National Medals of the Arts and the Humanities are poets, musicians, artists, journalists, professors, historians, and at least one chef. Their paths and their mediums could hardly be more different, and that’s what makes them great. They take their piece of this big, bold, diverse, energetic country, they reshape it, and then they share it with us. They open our experience to theirs, and for that, we honor them here today."