Richard Blanco meets Bruce Springsteen when both men received awards at The White House. Submitted

Poet Richard Blanco with actor, Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the White House Submitted

BETHEL — Bethel’s Richard Blanco traveled to Washington DC last week to receive a National Humanities Medal on March 21.

Other winners were Bruce Springsteen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Elton John, Gladys Knight, Jose Feliciano, Vera Wang, Amy Tan, and Walter Isaacson.

Blanco is an award-winning poet, author, professor and public speaker and a son of Cuban immigrants. He gained recognition in January 2013 when he read President Barack Obama’s second inauguration day poem, “One Today,” before hundreds of thousands gathered on the National Mall.

The National Humanities Medal, which was created in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broadened Americans’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy and other humanities.

A  video shows Blanco entering the chamber just before President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. He wore a black bow tie and dazzling blue suit with a cross body lapel. He smiled broadly when the president put the medal over his neck.

While reading Blanco’s poem, “One Today,” the president stumbled over the word country and started over. Biden said, “I’m getting so intimidated being here.”

Blanco’s husband, Mark Neveu, was with Blanco “on their whirlwind adventure” in DC. He sent photos of Blanco with other recipients and with president.

On Instagram, Blanco expressed how humbled he was receiving the medal, “When I received the message from the National Endowment for the Humanities, I thought it was spam …”

“The humanities let us understand ourselves in the context of others. They humanize us by relating real stories of lives that are too often abstracted by politics and media. They make us better people, more aware of ourselves and each other, able to respect and understand a greater good, for the good of all, which is more important than ever given the current divisiveness of our nation,” said Blanco

Poet and author Richard Blanco, of Bethel, receives a National Humanities Medal from President Biden last week. submitted

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