Kate Novak; Agneta Nilsson, who will receive the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; Eva Hafstr?m, wife of the Swedish ambassador to the U.S.; and Anne Marie McGowan at a reception at the House of Sweden, which started the SWEA World Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2009.
AGNETA NILSSON, the founder of the Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA) (www.swea.org), is set to receive the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The medal is awarded by the National Ethnic Coalition and Mrs. Nilsson will join the roster of distinguished American citizens who have already received this honor. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor was established in 1986 and pays tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s unique cultural mosaic. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives recognize the Ellis Island Medal of Honor as one of the United States’ most prestigious awards.
THE MEDAL WILL BE presented on Saturday, May 8, at a ceremony on Ellis Island in New York harbor. The event, in which all branches of the United States Armed Forces traditionally participate, is full of pageantry, grandeur and emotion. Dancers in their native costume add to the international flavor of the celebration. A gala dinner in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island follows the moving ceremony. As a grand finale, a majestic fireworks display illuminates the sky and America’s symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty.
Agneta Nilsson (to the right) together with photographer Kerstin Alm at the SWEA World Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2009.
THE MEDALS ARE awarded to U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage. Since NECO’s founding in 1986, more than 1,700 American citizens have received Ellis Islands Medal of Honor, including six American Presidents, several United States senators, Congressmen, Nobel Laureates, outstanding athletes, artists, clergy and military leaders. Mrs. Nilsson will be the third woman born in Sweden to receive the medal.
THE FOUNDING OF the National Ethnic Coalition was based on the conviction of its founders that the diversity of the American people is what makes the nation great. Its mission is to honor and preserve this diversity and to foster tolerance, respect and understanding among religious and ethnic groups.
FROM 1890 until 1954, Ellis Island was the gateway through which more than 12 million immigrants passed in their quest for freedom of speech, religion and economic opportunity. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor celebrate the richness and diversity of American life, honoring not only individuals, but the pluralism and democracy that have enabled the country’s ancestry groups to maintain their identities while becoming integral parts of the American Way of life.
MRS. NILSSON founded SWEA, Swedish Women’s Educational Association International, Inc. SWEA is a nonprofit global network with more than 8,000 members in 74 chapters across 34 countries. SWEA is the largest Swedish organization outside Swedish with the purpose to protect the Swedish language and provide information about the Swedish culture and traditions. Each year SWEA awards scholarships totaling about $300,000.