2009 National Humanities Medal Awarded to Elie Wiesel

President Barack Obama presented the 2009 National Humanities Medals to eight Americans for their outstanding achievements in history, literature, cultural philanthropy, and museum leadership. Elie Wiesel was awarded for “his unwavering commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and its victims. He has fostered compassion and understanding through his writing, his leadership, and his relentless advocacy for human rights.”

The medals, first awarded in 1989, were presented during a ceremony in the East Wing of the White House. After the ceremony, the medalists and their families and friends joined the President and First Lady Michelle Obama in a reception in their honor.

-Washington D.C., February 25th, 2010

Elie Wiesel to Hungary: Keep Your Award

Modern Jews have the luxury of thinking however we want about the Holocaust — if we think about it all. For some, it is nothing, for others a distant familial memory. For a bold few, it can even be the object of humor. (Hungarian Spectrum)

Not so for Jews of earlier generations, for whom the smoke of the camps is far more pungent. And as survivors of the camps dwindle in number, their voices, their invocations to never forget, become ever more urgent.

And no voice is more urgent than that of Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, whose “Night” remains probably the most widely-read nonfiction chronicle of the six million who perished, not to mention those who live with the scars.

Wiesel is in the news today because he has returned a Hungarian prize he won in 2004. He no longer wants it, convinced that Hungary is “whitewashing” its collaboration with the Nazis, according to an AFP report.

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Clinton at WJC Dinner: ‘Wiesels Played Pivotal Part in Bringing Shoah Into Public Consciousness’

Presenting the two honorees of the evening with the WJC award, Rodham Clinton said Elie and Marion Wiesel “played a pivotal part in bringing the Shoah into public consciousness.” She added: “Elie’s own story of survival and those of others he’s helped tell, and has steeled the world’s resolve that such an atrocity can never be repeated. The Wiesels have worked to overcome indifference toward the suffering of oppressed and marginalized populations around the world: Soviet Jews, Miskito Indians, refugees from Cambodia, prisoners from the former Yugoslavia, victims of the genocide in Darfur. Looking toward the future, Elie and Marion have filled us with hope and optimism for a freer, more just world.”

Rodham Clinton also praised the work of the World Jewish Congress: “For nearly 80 years, the World Jewish Congress has helped protect Jewish communities around the world, worked to stamp out anti-Semitism wherever it still exists and promoted understanding and friendship among people of all faiths.”

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Peres Awards Elie Wiesel The Presidential Medal

Elie Wiesel, world-renowned author, intellectual and Nobel laureate, received the Presidential Medal of Distinction from President Shimon Peres Monday in a ceremony in New York, for his work commemorating the Holocaust and promoting tolerance in the world.

“The Holocaust taught us that killing isn’t done just with guns and weapons, but also with apathy, and you, Elie, are saving the world from that apathy,” Peres told Wiesel during the award presentation.

“You are waving the flag of humanity, preventing bloodshed and challenging racism and anti-Semitism, as well as preventing war,” he said. “You personally went through the most atrocious horrors of humanity, and as a Holocaust survivor you chose to dedicate your life to deliver the message — never again.”

Wiesel thanked the president, and responded, “Israel is in the center of my life, and even though I don’t live in Israel, Israel lives within me. I now see myself as an honorary Israeli. Life is composed of moments, not only years, and this moment is worth an entire life.”

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