Lord of the Dance and Irish America’s Irish-American of the year for 2003 Michael Flatley was awarded with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a gala ceremony on May 15, 2004 at Ellis Island. Chairman of the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) Denis Fugazy said, “The Ellis Island Medal of Honor Awards allow us an opportunity to honor the best in America — those who lend their talents, time and energy to making our country a better place for us all.” Fugazy explained why Flatley was chosen to receive the medal. “Michael Flatley is not only an accomplished entertainer, but someone who has dedicated his life to helping others. He exemplifies all that is great about America,” he said.
Now Flatley has one more accomplishment under his Irish-dancing feet. “It was a wonderful and moving ceremony and I feel so proud to be a recipient of such an illustrious award,” Flatley said. His achievements include entries in the Guinness Book of World Records for tap dancing speed, being the highest paid dancer, and the highest insurance premium placed on a dancer’s legs — $40,000,000.
Since its beginning, the NECO has honored more than 1,300 ethnic American citizens and Native Americans. Michael Flatley is now among esteemed company including six presidents of the United States, members of Congress, Nobel Prize winners, Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, scientists, businessmen, entertainers, and military heroes. ♦