Ellis Island Honors Society
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The Ellis Island Honors Society (EIHS) (formerly known as National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) until Fall of 2017) was founded by William Denis Fugazy Sr., a transportation magnate from New York City, in 1986, in order to protest the awarding of “medals of liberty” to a group of 12 recent immigrants that included a Chinese-born architect, a Costa Rica-born astronaut, a leading expert on the psychology of race, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, but no “Irish, Italian, or Polish” people. Currently the organization is led by Chairman Nasser J. Kazeminy. Lee Iacocca, who was friends to both Fugazy and Kazeminy, co-charied the organization until 2012.
EIHS was created on the conviction of its founders that the diversity of the American people is what makes this nation great. Its mission is to honor and preserve this diversity and to foster tolerance, respect and understanding among religious and ethnic groups. Additionally, EIHS continues its commitment to the restoration and maintenance of Ellis Island, a living tribute to the courage and hope of all immigrants.
EIHS sponsors the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, awards presented annually to American citizens who have distinguished themselves in regards to fostering tolerance and understanding among religious and ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life. Past medalists include U.S. and foreign presidents, Nobel Prize winners, and leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government, along with everyday Americans who have made freedom, liberty and compassion a part of their life's work.
EIHS's mission is threefold:
- Preservation of the Ellis Island monument
- Honoring and preserving the diversity of America especially in regards to fostering tolerance and understanding among religious and ethnic groups
- Sponsoring a wide range of humanitarian endeavors, nationally and internationally, in partnership with existing organizations that share similar goals