In a rare posthumous ceremony, U-M alumnus Raoul Wallenberg was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal on June 9 in honor of his heroism during the Holocaust.
The award was presented to Wallenberg’s sister, Nina Lagergren, during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
“This is a magic moment for me to be here. He has played a role, which is immense, and he has saved 100,000 of men and women and children, and how many are there now? I have four children, so you imagine how many there are and how much they could do now today and every day,” Lagergren said.
“Today we present a gold medal, a gold medal in remembrance of someone who was the gold standard for the proposition that we are our brother’s keepers,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, House minority whip.
“As a young architecture student Wallenberg wrote to his grandfather in Sweden, ‘I feel so at home in my little Ann Arbor, that I’m beginning to have a hard time imagining leaving it.’ He found a different calling far from Ann Arbor. Through his countless acts of courage and daring, earning a place in the pantheon of history’s great men,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Cindy Bank, assistant director of federal relations in the U-M Washington Office, and U-M students Tess Van Gorder and Arnold Reed attended the ceremony
“The students were in awe of the event and the idea that Wallenberg had been a U-M student just like them,” Bank said.
As Bank was waiting to introduce the students to Wallenberg’s sister, a man rushed up for the opportunity to introduce his wife, who was saved by Wallenberg as a child.
Wallenberg is remembered at U-M through a variety of initiatives, including the Wallenberg Medal and Lecture, awarded every year to an outstanding humanitarian who exemplifies the spirit of selfless courage and action in the face of often overwhelming odds.