GENERAL COLIN POWELL, ROBERT MONDAVI, NOBEL WINNER MURRAY GELL-MANN, ASTRONAUT SCOTT PARAZYNSKI, AND
CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE HONORED WITH 2005 ELLIS ISLAND FAMILY HERITAGE AWARD
April 19, 2005 (Ellis Island, NY)
- Today in the historic Great Hall, six esteemed individuals were honored by The Statue
of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. for their contributions to the American Experience.
The Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, given annually to a select number of Ellis Island immigrants
or their descendants, were presented by the Foundation’s Founding Chairman Lee Iacocca in a noon
ceremony. The 2005 honorees are:
GOVERNMENT SERVICE: General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret) – U.S. military leader, who served as national security
advisor, was promoted to the rank of four-star general, named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and went on
to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. His mother entered America through Ellis Island.
BUSINESS: Robert Mondavi – Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Robert Mondavi Winery, whose vision has seen California’s
Napa Valley develop into one of the finest winemaking regions in the world. He is the son of Ellis Island immigrants.
SCIENCE: Murray Gell-Mann, Ph.D. – Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969 for his work with subatomic
particles, he helped found and is director of the Santa Fe Institute and is a member of the National Academy of
Sciences. His father arrived in America through Ellis Island.
TECHNOLOGY: Astronaut Scott Parazynski, M.D. – Veteran of four space flights who is currently training for the STS-118
mission scheduled for 2006, during which he will perform three spacewalks to continue assembly of the International
Space Station. His great-grandparents came through Ellis Island.
PEOPLING OF AMERICA AWARD: This award honors an immigrant who does not trace roots to Ellis Island but arrived at
another time and/or through another port of entry. The 2005 award honors two, whose achievements are forever
intertwined—Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Their environmental works of art have generated excitement around the world.
They came to America in 1963, he originally from Bulgaria, she from France.
Commenting on the legacy of the Ellis Island immigrants, Lee Iacocca said, “They came here by the thousands, among
them my mom and dad, but each and every story is its own. I cherish these stories because they are at the very core
of who we are.”
The Ellis Island honorees were presented with a framed copy of the original ship’s passenger manifest documenting
the arrival of their family in America, obtained from the database of the American Family Immigration History Center®
at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and online at www.ellisisland.org. The database contains the ship passenger
records of the more than 25 million people who entered through the Port of New York and Ellis Island from 1892-1924.
Forty percent of Americans trace their roots to an ancestor who came through Ellis Island. Honorees are selected through
a process that is guided by an Awards Committee of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
About The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit
organization founded in 1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historic
restorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, working in partnership
with the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. In addition to
restoring the monuments, the Foundation created a museum in the Statue’s base
and the world-class Ellis Island Immigration Museum, The American Immigrant
Wall of Honor® and the American Family Immigration History Center™ and saved
and restored a total of five buildings on Ellis Island. The Foundation promised
to its donors in the 1980s and established in 1993 an endowment under the
auspices of its board of directors that would annually help maintain the work
the Foundation had done on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and enhance
the visitor experience for years to come. Since the endowment’s inception,
proceeds from its principal have funded over 200 projects at the islands for a
total of $12.3 million. The Foundation spearheaded a campaign, in the wake of
9/11, to raise the funds for and manage the construction work necessary to make
critical safety and security upgrades to the Statue so that the National Park
Service, U.S. Department of the Interior could reopen Lady Liberty's doors to the
public on August 3, 2004.