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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 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.

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