Maitland's Monument Man received Congressional Gold Medal


Following President Obama's signature marking formal passage of this bill in June 2014, the Foundation spent the past 12 months meeting with officials from the U.S. Mint and their team of artists on the design of the gold medal.

On Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, the United States Congress presented the Monuments men and women, of all 14 nations, with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States. George Washington received the first medal. (A partial list of recipients is provided below.) Normally only two Congressional Gold Medals are awarded each year, due in part to the rigorous review and approval process that requires two-thirds consent of both houses of Congress. Nine years of work to encourage our nation to formally honor these heroes has now resulted in this august recognition.

One of these recipients was Rouben Sami, a resident of Maitland. Now 94, Sami was recognized as a Monuments Man two years ago when his wife, Lee, notified the Heritage that he had been stationed in Germany to help restore and return books, Torahs and paintings stolen by the Nazis during World War II. She was trying to find out how he could be recognized. Heritage contacted the Monuments Men Foundation founder, Robert M. Edsel. The Foundation researched Sami and his name was added to the list of surviving Monuments Men (see for the list of men and women). In October 2014, Edsel visited Sami at his home and presented him with a Gold Leaf Certificate of the 2007 Congressional Resolution, and now this past October, Sami received his own Congressional Gold Medal.

Sami's daughter, Renea Sami, received the medal on his behalf in Washington, D.C. The Speaker of the House, Congressman John Boehner, served as the Master of Ceremony for the event. Other speakers included the Majority and Minority leaders of each party in both Houses of Congress, the Senate and House sponsors of the bill, Monuments Man Harry Ettlinger, and Edsel. All members of Congress were invited to attend this event.

A partial list of past recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal:

Former United States Presidents Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan; pioneers/explorers the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Neil Armstrong; military figures and groups Generals Ulysses S. Grant, George C. Marshall, and Douglas MacArthur; and the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Doolittle Raiders; celebrities Bob Hope, John Wayne; foreign dignitaries including Sir Winston Churchill; artists/musicians George Gershwin, Robert Frost, and Andrew Wyeth; athletes Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and Jack Nicklaus; religious figures Pope John Paul II, Rev. Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama; and human rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Elie Wiesel, and Nelson Mandela.


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