Congress Salutes Diplomats at Momentum Event Marking the Introduction of Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Act

The ornate Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building featured a historic event, organized by Project Legacy, heralding the introduction of bipartisan legislation S.91- Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Act awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to 60 diplomats in recognition of their heroism and bravery during the Holocaust.

U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty speaking

These diplomats used every means at their disposal to help Jews fleeing persecution. One of the most powerful tools the diplomats had was the issuing of passports and travel visas contrary to the instruction of the governments of the diplomats. This process alone was responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of Jewish families.

Chair of the Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Committee (, Abraham Foxman, encapsulated the significance of the legislative effort with a moving statement: "I decided a long time ago not to be a witness to the evil, to the brutality that men are capable of. I decided to bear witness to goodness, to decency, to compassion, to humanity, to all who have made a colossal difference in that they saved lives - Jewish lives."

Art Reidel, co-chair, expressed his strong support for the Gold Medal Act: "I feel strongly that our taking this action and supporting this bill is especially important at this time in this place. I do not need to explain to anyone here the moral challenges that we face today but I will respectfully remind everyone that at the time of the Holocaust in this city, many in positions of power failed to stand up and allowed innocent deaths that they could have prevented."

Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, academic advisor for the bill, has conducted extensive research on the theme of Righteous Among the Nations, and expressed his belief that the heroic acts of these 60 diplomats must be etched into history, asserting that "The 60 people on our list, they didn't know each other, they didn't consult with each other, they did not belong to a rescuers club, but they all decided that the values of humanity, of civilized life, of moral life are at stake and they had to make a decision. They were there on the spot, they saw it. They were not Mother Teresas, they were not cut out to be saints, but they did saintly things, saintly acts."

The program featured remarks by U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty who explained his motivation for sponsoring S. 91 ( and the deep significance this legislation holds. Previously serving as the United States Ambassador to Japan, this bill has a special meaning to him.

The Democratic lead of the bill, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, discussed the importance of S.91 and his inspiration for sponsoring the bill.

Participants also heard from Senator Mike Braun and Senator Rick Scott.

Thirteen ambassadors, representing individual diplomats from countries that are listed in the Congressional Gold Medal legislation, shared remarkable stories of these heroes and spoke on how each of these stories inspired them to act bravely and honorably in their own work. The roster included Tomita Koji - Japan, H.E. Murat Mercan - Turkey, Ingrid Ask - Sweden, Marek Magierowski of Poland, Miloslav Stasek - Czech Republic, Bernardo Velloso - Brazil, Andre Haspels - Netherlands, Radovan Javorcik - Slovak Republic, Ana Louisa Fajer Flores - Mexico, Alexandra Bilreiro - Portugal, Alessando Gonzales - Italy, Andrei Muraru - Romania.

"The Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust Congressional Gold Medal Act is a pivotal piece of legislation that strives to uphold the selflessness, kindness, and bravery of the diplomats and this bill will forever remind us that even ordinary people can do extraordinary things," concluded Ezra Friedlander, Founder of Project Legacy, organizer of the event, and CEO of The Friedlander Group.

Project Legacy ( was established for charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes. Project Legacy will recognize individuals whose leadership has resulted in the advancement of peace, human rights, democracy, and freedom.

Download additional photos and captions here.

Source: Project Legacy

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