NEW YORK — On May 8, seven distinguished Armenians were among more than 100 recipients of the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), which put together a program featuring a military parade and singers and dancers from various ethnic groups in America, including Armenians. A total of 7 percent of the recipients were Armenians this year, thanks to the efforts of Helen Irma Der Stepanian, an active member of NECO.
The seven Armenian-American recipients were: Kevork D. Atinizian, philanthropist, owner, Vast Capital Management; Adrienne G. Alexanian, educator, United Nations NGO representative; Sarkis Bedevian, Adrienne G. Alexanian, philanthropist; Annie Totah, co-owner, Oxbridge Development Co.; Vartkes B. Yeghiayan, Esq.; Bedros S. Oruncakciel, general partner, Los Angeles United Investment Co. and Carole Black, former president and CEO, Lifetime Entertainment Services.
Each of the seven represents the very essence of the American-Armenian way of life, having greatly contributed to our national identity while preserving our Armenian values and heritage. All of them accepted the praise and the medal proudly. All of them are successful citizens who have given back to their community and country.
Established in 1986 by NECO, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor celebrates the richness and diversity of American life and pays tribute to the ethnic groups that comprise America’s unique cultural mosaic.
Past medalists include six presidents, as well as Nobel Prize winners and leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government. Recognized by the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Ellis Island
Medal recipients are also read into the Congressional Record.
The Ellis Island Medals of Honor has been aptly named, for its namesake island is a symbol of the diversity of America, a people whose genius, culture, artistry and thought have joined to form a single mosaic of many cultures and ancestral backgrounds. It is because of that diversity that the United States is still a beacon of hope for so many around the world.