State Governors signed a proclamation declaring October 5th, 2006 Raoul Wallenberg Day in the States of Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey and West Virginia in honor of Wallenberg’s humanitarian efforts in Hungary during World War II.
On October 5th 1981, Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who disappeared in January 1945 after saving the lives of tens of thousands condemned to certain death by the Nazis during World War II, became the second person in history to be awarded Honorary U.S. Citizenship.
Governor Joe Manchin III, of the State of West Virginia, said, ”Raoul Wallenberg… risked his own life countless of times during his work, dragging Jews from trains bound for gas chambers, bringing food and blankets to those on death marches, creating Swedish Safe houses, unflinchingly challenging Nazi authorities and saving the lives of some 100,000 men, women and children”
The initiative followed a suggestion made by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which is campaigning to obtain commemorative days to honor the Swedish diplomat nationwide and, in some cases, counted with the in-state support of concerned citizens.
”It is important,” reads the Proclamation signed by Governor of Maine John Baldacci, ”that the world’s citizens learn from the example of Mr. Wallenberg, and work hard to eradicate all traces of prejudice, intolerance, and cultural insensitivity in our communities and nations.”
This commemorative date is celebrated every year in the State of New York and was observed in the States of Nevada, Michigan, Nebraska, Maryland and Connecticut in 2005. Wallenberg Days are also commemorated around the world, from Canada to Argentina.
”Raoul Wallenberg has become a symbol of each human being’s concern for every fellow human being, an example to be followed, and an inspiration to uncover and fight for justice and understanding,” proclaims Governor Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation is a non-profit organization, with the aim of rendering homage, promoting the message and remembering the actions of all those Heroes of the Holocaust, who like Raoul Wallenberg, risked their lives to save persecuted people during the Holocaust.