Secretary of Defense (2006-2011) Robert M. Gates joined nearly 2,000 of Chicago's foremost civic, business and charitable leaders, community members, local Holocaust survivors and museum patrons at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Tuesday, March 6, to celebrate the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and to honor four individuals at its 2012 Humanitarian Awards Dinner.
"The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center serves as a poignant reminder of our past and a trusted source of education for schoolchildren, community members and visitors from across the country," said J.B. Pritzker, chairman of the museum's board of trustees.
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"We are honored to have Robert Gates here with us this evening to discuss global politics and foreign policy and to hear his analysis of the current situation in the Middle East."
Neil Bluhm, president, JMB Realty Corporation; Don Thompson, president and chief operating officer, McDonald's Corporation; and Rick Waddell, chairman and chief executive officer, Northern Trust, each received the museum's 2012 Humanitarian Award for their commitment to fighting hatred, indifference and intolerance in the world.
The Community Leadership Award was presented to Michael Rubinstein in appreciation for his years of service to the museum.
"The Humanitarian Awards Dinner allows us to recognize and show our appreciation for individuals who share our mission to combat injustice," said Richard Hirschhaut, executive director of the museum.
"We are profoundly grateful to Neil Bluhm, Don Thompson, Rick Waddell and Michael Rubinstein for their support of our institution and unwavering dedication to educating current and future generations about the dangers of intolerance and bigotry."
"I'm honored to receive the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center's Humanitarian Award," said Neil Bluhm, a longtime advocate of Holocaust education.
"This world-class institution compels, teaches and guides us to overcome intolerance and indifference, and I am confident it will continue to successfully execute its critical mission for generations to come."
In addition to Don Thompson's personal support for the museum, his company, McDonald's, supports the Make a Difference! Miller Family Youth Exhibition.
"I'm honored to be acknowledged by an institution committed to teaching our young people how to overcome intolerance and hatred in new and innovative ways," said Thompson.
Rick Waddell, a longtime supporter of the museum and his company, Northern Trust, sponsored a writing workshop for Holocaust survivors. The works created in the writing workshop were compiled and recently published as a book, which was available for purchase at the dinner.
"It is a privilege to support the museum and the community of survivors, and I am humbled to receive this award for that work," said Waddell.
"It is a particular thrill to receive this kind of recognition from an institution that I hold in such high regard and so deeply admire," said Community Leadership Award recipient Michael Rubinstein, a member of the museum's executive committee and co-chair of its education committee.
"I look forward to continuing to work with the museum to ensure that 'never again' becomes a reality."
Through this gala, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center raised more than $2 million in support of its mission and ongoing educational initiatives.
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