NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, former U.S. Army General Ann E. Dunwoody, the first woman to reach four-star status in the U.S. Army, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis a former Sandy Hook first-grade teacher who heroically saved the lives of fifteen of her students during the Newton, Connecticut school shooting, Ali Torre, the co-founder of the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, TV Host Padma Lakshmi, former NFL player Mike Utley, entertainer Tony Orlando, WPIX News Anchor Tamsen Fadal, WABC Meteorologist Bill Evans, philanthropist Lorraine Thomas, the co-founder of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and ten members of the U.S. Military were among the more than ninety honorees who received the 2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations-NECO in an awards ceremony held on Ellis Island.
Chairman of NECO Nasser J. Kazeminy stated, "Today, there is so much negative rhetoric about immigration. We forget that the great majority of our citizens celebrate a second heritage in addition to being Americans. I believe that anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America must also take on the responsibilities of citizenship. Those responsibilities include being informed, being engaged and voting for our leaders. This is the small price we pay for such enormous freedom. When we talk about immigration, let's not forget the men and women who we have honored who are highly-skilled workers, college graduates, and entrepreneurs and who contribute so much to our society and our economy. America is a nation of immigrants and it is what makes us great."
The Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity. We recognize individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America.
As always, NECO remains dedicated to the maintenance and restoration of America's greatest symbol of its immigrant history, Ellis Island. Since the Medal was founded in 1986, we have honored such distinguished and diverse Americans including: six Presidents of the United States; Nobel Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell, Hon. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John McCain, Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Walters, Rosa Parks, Yue-Sai Kan, Mike Wallace, Quincy Jones and Mia Farrow, all who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to this country.
The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation's most prestigious awards. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record.A complete list of Medal recipients can be found on our website, www.neco.org.