The medal is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government.
“I wonder what took so long,” the 85-year-old Lee told The Washington Post. “Say ‘He said it with a laugh’ or I’ll shoot you.”
Others receiving the honor today from President Bush included actress Olivia de Havilland, jazz pianist Hank Jones, sculptor Jesús Moroles, and songwriting brothers Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman, who penned It’s a Small World (After All) and other works for Disney.
The ceremony also included the presentation of the National Humanities Medal.