"This year we honor 18," said President Barack Obama at the ceremony. "Unfortunately, Stephen Sondheim could not be with us today. I'm going to be presenting him with this award at our 2015 ceremony."
Meryl Streep, the star of the upcoming film adaptation of Sondheim's Woods, was among the 18 individuals who received the honor.
When asked about receiving the Medal of Freedom, Streep previously explained, "Well, I thought he deserved it! It's a pretty amazing thing. I sort of can't quite figure it out myself — for myself — but [I'm] very, very honored and sort of gobsmacked by the whole thing. We'll fly down together next Sunday night, so that will be fun."
President Barack Obama announced the recipients Nov. 10. The awards, the nation's highest civilian honor, are presented at the White House.
Watch the ceremony below: