In 1986 the Ellis Island Medal of Honor was given for the first time. It is an American award founded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), presented annually to American citizens whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation. Among the very first recipients were:
Joe DiMaggio: An American baseball center fielder who played his entire 13-year career in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees. He is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak. He is also widely known for his marriage and lifelong devotion to Marilyn Monroe.
Victor Borge: A Danish and American comedian, conductor, and pianist who achieved great popularity in radio and television in the United States and Europe. His blend of music and comedy earned him the nicknames “The Clown Prince of Denmark,” “The Unmelancholy Dane,” and “The Great Dane.”
Anita Bryant: An American singer and political activist. She scored four Top 40 hits in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including “Paper Roses“, which reached #5 on the charts. She was also a former Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner, and was a brand ambassador for the Florida Citrus Commission (which marketed orange juice) from 1969 to 1979. In the 1970s, Bryant became known as an outspoken opponent of gay rights in the US. In 1977, she ran the “Save Our Children” campaign to repeal a local ordinance in Dade County, Florida that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This involvement significantly damaged her popularity and career in show business. In spite of her downfall defending traditional family values she was recognized at this event.
Muhammad Ali: born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer and activist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century. From early in his career, Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial, and polarizing figure both inside and outside the ring. He converted to Islam and as such refused to be drafted into the military.
Rosa Parks: An activist in the Civil Rights Movement, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order to give up her seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger, after the whites-only section was filled.
Donald Trump: Yes, He too was honored. This in no way negates his lifelong compassion for sports, showbiz, political activism, religious freedom and civil rights.