Ellis Island Medal of Honor: Celebrating America’s Diversity By Derek Dewan

Founded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), the Ellis Island Medal of Honor is awarded each year to 100 individuals, drawn from fields as disparate as business and literature, “who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups, while exemplifying the values of the American way of life.”

The awards were set up in 1986 during Liberty Weekend to celebrate the Statue of Liberty’s centennial. During the celebrations, President Reagan awarded the Medal of Liberty to naturalized citizens, such as Bob Hope. However, Italian-American and Asian-American names were conspicuously absent from the awardee list.

In response, NECO established the Medal of Honor to celebrate a more inclusive experience of America’s rich and diverse immigrant experience. Past winners of the award include Nobel Peace Prize recipient John Hume, renowned actor Anthony Quinn, and baseball great Joe DiMaggio.

About the author: Florida resident Derek Dewan is known for creating Accustaff, one of the largest staffing organizations in the United States. For his contributions in creating jobs and shareholder wealth, the Lebanese-American Dewan received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.