The Vietnamese-American photojournalist received the medal Wednesday at the White House from President Donald Trump along with country music star Toby Keith and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs, the Washington Post reported.
The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the U.S. Congress in 1984 and the highest honor given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government. It is given to artists who "are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States," according to a government website.
Nick Ut is most known for the "napalm girl" photograph, shot on June 8, 1972, which captured 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc and other terrified children running down a road near Trang Bang District in the southeastern province of Tay Ninh after a South Vietnamese plane had dropped napalm on civilians.
The U.S. dropped almost 400,000 tons of napalm bombs between 1963 and 1973. It is estimated that 60 percent of the Vietnamese people hit by napalm suffered fifth-degree burns the burn going down to the bone.
The photo won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for Spot News Photography. Ut is a regular visitor to Vietnam since the war ended in 1975.