3248) Ergun Kirlikovali Receives Ellis Island Medal Of Honor

© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com The 25th Anniversary of the Ellis Island Medals Of Honor Gala will feature this year someone we all know well: ERGUN KIRLIKOVALI, President-Elect, The Assembly of Turkish American Associations, Washington DC, USA, www.ataa.org . Legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis will join other Ellis Island Medals Of Honor recipients at a pre-gala media reception at the Ritz Carlton New York, Battery Park, on Saturday, May 7. at 4:00 pm.

We thought we would ask for our readers a few questions to Mr. Kirlikovali about this momentous event
. .

Who is hosting this event?

The National Ethnic Coalition (NECO) which will also present The 25th Anniversary of the Ellis Island Medals Of Honor on Saturday, May 7, at 6:30 pm, on Ellis Island, to leaders of entertainment, business, government, military, education, sports, media, healthcare, and industry. NECO was created in 1984 on the conviction of its founders that the diversity of the American people is what makes America great.

What is NECO’s Mission?

To honor diverse American past, advocate for positive change in the present, and build strong leaders for the future. NECO promotes unity through diversity by investing in the Power of Caring. NECO is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization, in partnerships with other humanitarian causes, like Gift of Life International (GLI), Children In Need Institute (CINI), The Ellis Island Immigration Museum (EIIM), and others: www.neco.org .

What is the purpose of the ceremony?

The ceremony pays tribute to American citizens of diverse ethnic origins whose influence and achievements inspire and touch the lives of people everywhere. Correspondent Marvin Scott and renowned entertainer Tom Dreesen will be the Masters of Ceremony. Each year since 1986, NECO has honored America’s diverse past by sponsoring the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor annually pays tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s unique cultural mosaic. The Medals are presented on Ellis Island, in a dramatic ceremony, to American citizens of diverse origins for their outstanding contributions to their communities, their nation and the world.

Who are some of the past Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients?

The list would include six Presidents of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity. They are awarded annually to outstanding American citizens, from all walks of life, who have distinguished themselves through their significant contributions to this country. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation’s most prestigious awards. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record. To date, more than 1,800 American citizens have received Ellis Island Medals of Honor.

Can you give some of those names?

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist;
Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell;
Senators John McCain and Ben Nighthorse Campbell;
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani;
U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno;
Emilio & Gloria Estefan;
Lee Iacocca;
Dr. Michael E. DeBakey;
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao;
Rosa Parks;
Elie Wiesel;
Frank Sinatra;
Bob Hope;
Opera diva Renee Fleming;
Yogi Berra;
Muhammad Ali;
Arnold Palmer;
Tom Brokaw;
Walter Cronkite;
Barbara Walters;
Mike Wallace;
Quincy Jones;
Jane Seymour;
Siegfried & Roy;

Can we get to know you a little bit better?
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Sure. I was born in Izmir in 1952 and attended primary and secondary schools there. I took the entrance exams for Robert Academy, Istanbul, and completed my high school education there. I later attended Bogazici University, Chemistry Department, and received my BS in Chemistry. I continued my postgraduate studies at the University of Manchester, UK, Polymer Science department. I conducted research on polymers in Austria and Holland. After performing my military service as a reserve officer at the Turkish Navy, I worked in the chemical industry in Turkey for a year before moving to the United States. I worked for various polymer companies in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, prior to starting my own company in 1985, developing and manufacturing new polymeric materials for demanding aerospace applications. I am married and have one son. We live in Southern California.

What about your involvement in your community and heritage?

I have been active with Turkish-American community since the day I set foot in America. The very day I arrived at the United Sates, for instance, I had a label on a bread brand at a supermarket chain in San Francisco removed after complaining to the manager. The label had been placed there by its Armenian baker and it was racist in content and tone and it unfairly defamed Turkey. The bread brand stayed but the obscene label did not. This is how American greeted me. Would I be checking in future every label on every consumer item, like milk, candy bar, potato chips, etc.? To what kind of a place did I come? Needless to say, I was alarmed by this episode.

Thus was kicked off my 34 years of struggle against defamation and disinformation, culminating in my recently being elected to the nationwide office of ATAA presidency for the 2011-2013 term.

Before that, I was the president of ATASC (1982, Los Angeles,) founder of the Public Relations committee at FTAA and its first chairman (1984, New York,) the West Coast Regional Director for FTAA (1985 to 2005,) and the VP for West Coast for ATAA (2005-2006.)

I wrote more than 5,000 letters to global media in the past three decades to set the record straight and got published in many countries. I also appeared in radio and TV programs, academic panels, and other events involving Turkish culture, history, and heritage. Although I am not working or volunteering to receive awards, I am the recipient of many professional, community, international, media, and civic awards.

What are your goals ?
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I believe Turkish culture and history are little known and mostly misunderstood by the American public, mainly due to the incessant and deliberate misrepresentations by well financed, ill-willed, anti-Turkish lobbies. Therefore, I want to see a vibrant, influential, and much respected Turkish-American community that speaks up loud and clear when misrepresented, attacked, defamed, intimidated, harassed, censored, and/or otherwise maltreated.

I believe the biggest Turkish assets are the truth as well as the honesty, warmth, friendliness, and hospitality of the Turkish people. I believe that with so many outrageous lies and deceptions designed to defame Turkish culture and heritage, fielded daily by the many anti-Turkish lobbies, the Turkish-American community is destined to win in the end, just by continuing to be who they are- the nicest people anywhere in the world.

What are your hobbies?

I love watching, learning, and performing international folk dances. Among my other hobbies are world travel and archeology. I am avid reader in history, philosophy, sociology, and international relations .


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