The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations – NECO is the proud sponsor of the Ellis Island Medals of Honor which are presented annually to a select group of individuals whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation are cause for celebration. The Medal has been officially recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of our nation’s most prestigious awards and is annually memorialized in the Congressional Record.
The Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their salute to tolerance, brotherhood, diversity and patriotism. Honorees may be native-born or naturalized, but most importantly, they are individuals who have made it their mission to share their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity with those less fortunate. In addition to hosting their annual gala, NECO remains dedicated to, and has raised significant funds for, the maintenance and restoration of Ellis Island.
For the event, Ellis Island is closed to the public as honorees and their guests arrive via a private ferry. More than 300 service members participate in an opening ceremony that includes a joint-service color guard representing all five branches of the military. Medalists accept their honor on stage in front of family and friends before retiring to dinner in the historic Great Hall.
Since the Medal was founded in 1986, NECO has honored distinguished and diverse Americans including seven Presidents of the United States, Vice-President Joe Biden, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Nobel laureates Elie Wiesel and Malala Yousafzai, Coretta Scott King, John Sculley, Muhammad Ali, Lee Iacocca and Rosa Parks, among other outstanding Americans.