President Joe Biden surprised Sir Elton John by presenting him with the National Humanities Medal for his advocacy in the global fight against HIV/AIDS on Friday after the beloved singer-songwriter performed on the White House lawn.

The surprise ceremony took place at an event dubbed “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” presented in collaboration with A&E Networks and The History Channel. John performed some of his hit songs like “Your Song”, “Rocket Man”, and “Tiny Dancer” for an audience of about 2,000 attendees consisting of civil rights leaders, LGBTQ advocates, and government officials, as well as “everyday history-makers” including teachers, nurses, and military families.

He received several standing ovations, and his “Crocodile Rock” performance left President Biden wiping tears from his eyes. John explained before starting the song that it meant a lot to the president who used to sing it with his kids while driving them to school, and later used it to connect with his son Beau as he was dying of brain cancer and unable to communicate well, per CNN.

John paused between songs to address the audience, singling out former first lady Laura Bush at one point to acknowledge former President George W. Bush’s “astonishing” work on the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which helped change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS crisis around the world.

“I want to say to the first lady, President Bush accelerated the whole thing with his PEPFAR bill. It was the most incredible thing,” he said, telling the former first lady to give her husband a hug on his behalf.

He also commended the U.S.’s bipartisan efforts in the fight against HIV, adding, “I just wish America could be more bipartisan on everything.”

After the performance, Biden bestowed the prestigious National Humanities Medal on John “for moving our souls with his powerful voice and one of the defining songbooks of all time,” calling him “an enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found purpose to challenge convention, shatter stigma and advance the simple truth—that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

John was visibly moved by the presentation, saying, “I’m never flabbergasted, but I’m flabbergasted.”

Watch videos of Elton John performing and accepting the National Humanities Medal at the White House below.

Biden Presents Elton John With The National Humanities Medal

Elton John – “Tiny Dancer” – 9/23/22

[Video: Howard Mortman]

Elton John – “Rocket Man” – 9/23/22

[Video: Howard Mortman]

Elton John – “I’m Still Standing” – 9/23/22

[Video: Howard Mortman]

Elton John – “Crocodile Rock” – 9/23/22

[Video: Elton John HD Collection]

Elton John – “Your Song” – 9/23/22

[Video: Elton John HD Collection]

Elton John – “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” – 9/23/22

[Video: Elton John HD Collection]

President Joe Biden And First Lady Jill Biden Speak – 9/23/22

[Video: BPolitical]

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