Academy Award-Winner Natalie Portman, Holocaust Survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein and White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew to Honor Suu Kyi
Albert “Sonny” Abramson to be Remembered for Long-standing Dedication to the Museum and Instrumental Role in its Construction
April 9, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Elie Wiesel Award will be awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace laureate and the leader of Burma’s democracy movement, at the Museum’s annual National Tribute Dinner on Wednesday, April 18. Aung San Suu Kyi is being recognized for her exceptional courage and leadership in resisting tyranny and advancing the dignity and freedom of the Burmese people through nonviolence. Academy Award-winner Natalie Portman, Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein and White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew will deliver remarks.
“Aung San Suu Kyi is an extraordinary woman whose battle for her people’s freedom remains an inspiration to many others. Her moral courage facing dictatorship is exemplary. Few leaders have done so much, for such a long period, for the honor of true democracy,” said award namesake Elie Wiesel. “The Museum’s decision to honor her will remain a source of pride to those who believe in memory’s power to vanquish injustice.”
Historic Parliamentary elections took place in Burma on April 1. Aung San Suu Kyi, after enduring years of persecution and house arrest, won a seat in Burma’s Parliament with other members of the National League for Democracy party. Due to the political situation in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi will accept the award by video message.
Established in 2011, the award is named in honor of its inaugural recipient, Nobel Peace laureate and Museum Founding Chairman Elie Wiesel. It is given annually to an internationally prominent individual whose actions have advanced the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Engraved on the award are words from Elie Wiesel’s Nobel speech, “One person of integrity can make a difference.”
“When we think of those few individuals who during the Holocaust took such grave risks to save a fellow human being, we recognize the enormous difference they made and we rightly call them heroes,” says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “‘Hero’ is an overused word, but Aung San Suu Kyi is a true hero and like the rescuers, she is a great inspiration for everyone who cares about freedom.”
The Museum will pay tribute to the late Albert “Sonny” Abramson, a pivotal leader and generous supporter of the project to build a Holocaust museum on the National Mall. His singular leadership and vision led to the selection of the Museum’s architect, James Ingo Freed, and founding director, Jeshajahu “Shaike” Weinberg. As one of the Museum’s primary benefactors, Sonny and his wife, Ruth, established the Abramson Archives and commissioned the public sculpture located on the Eisenhower Plaza outside the Museum’s 15th Street entrance.
“He understood the importance of the survivors’ legacy and wanted to preserve that legacy for the American people. He had a vision that although the Holocaust happened in another place, at another time, its universal lessons about human freedom and individual responsibility were vital for this nation,” Bloomfield said.
The Museum’s National Tribute Dinner will be held on Wednesday, April 18, at the National Harbor, Maryland, as part of the Museum’s annual Days of Remembrance events. People interested in attending the dinner should contact Taylor Lescallette at 202-314-7877 or email@example.com. The event co-chairs are Meryl and Michael Chertoff and Diana and Michael David Epstein.
In addition to the Tribute Dinner, the Museum will hold a public names reading of Holocaust victims as part of its Days of Remembrance activities. Museum visitors and members of the community are invited to participate in this memorial. More information on reading dates and times and other Days of Remembrance activities can be found at www.ushmm.org/remembrance/dor.
Days of Remembrance observances will also take place in communities, state houses, city halls, churches, and synagogues in the United States and military installations worldwide. The Museum has created an interactive map allowing people to find programs in their area, available at http://www.ushmm.org/remembrance/dor/eventmap/.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.
MEDIA: All media interested in attending the National Tribute Dinner should contact Andy Hollinger at (202) 488-6133 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jackie Berkowitz at (202) 488-2637 or email@example.com.