Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Marine Corps Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 23, on Thursday during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Meyer was in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in September 2009 when he saved 36 lives — those of 13 Marines and Army soldiers along with 23 Afghan soldiers. He is the first living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Meyer, Obama said, represents “the best of a generation that has served with distinction through a decade of war.”

“You did your duty above and beyond, and you kept the faith with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps you love,” Obama said.