NEW YORK—On Saturday, eight Armenian-American received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor during an official ceremony at the iconic and historic gateway for hundreds of thousands who were welcomed into the United States by the Statue of Liberty and made America their home.
The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, which awards the medals, announced that Varant Frank Melkonian, Dr. Garo M. Tertzakian, Ara Tekian, Joan Agajanian Quinn, Lucine Mardirosian, Harvey, Andy Andranik Madadian, Ruth Bedevian and Kurken Yetvart Berksanlar will receive medals of honor.
From successful businessmen, to a pioneering physician, to artists who enrich our lives through art and music and those who dedicate their lives to the advancement of our community through philanthropy, service to church and our organizations, the eight Armenians represent a cross-section of our ever-expanding reality.
The eight Armenians were joined by such luminaries as journalist Fareed Zakaria, and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin. An Ellis Island International Medal of Honor was also presented to Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who won the Nobel Peace Prize after being shot in her native Pakistan while fighting for a girl’s right to an education.
According to the NECO website, “the Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity. They 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.”
Past Armenian-American Ellis Island Medal recipient s include, Harry Nadjarian, Mike Sarian, Vahe Karapetian, Elizabeth Aghbabian, Maria Mehranian, Dalida Keuroghlian, Sylva Akaragian and Christopher Atamian among dozens of others.