Honorary Citizens is a process by which countries all over the world appreciate the achievements and distinctions of particular individuals who do not reside in their country. It is a matter of respect for these individuals and it can only be awarded by the President of the United States or by an Act of Congress.
Receiving an honorary citizenship of the United States is not a small feat, in fact the following people are part of a very exclusive and well renowned group of people who have been cherished for the work that they put in during their life and the effect they have made due to it even after they have died.
With a population of 318.9 million, the top 10 Honorary Citizens of the United States are as follows
10. Tracey Ullman
Tracey Ullman who was a famous British comedian became an honorary citizens of the United States in 2006 and she claims that it was after becoming a United States citizen that she felt she could properly create satire that was based on this society. She claimed that not only was the society a bit different from what she was used to initially back in England but in fact the sense of humor was different too.
At the time she felt that satire in the United States was not equal to what was deemed normal in England and only after so many years has the situation matured into accepting comedy shows like ‘The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’ or ‘The Colbert Report.’ It was after she shifted to the United States of America that she truly began to understand the dynamics of their culture, the workings of the society and the politics of the people and the government.
It was also the experience of meeting Barack Obama, the President of the United States that propelled her decision to move into the country.
9. Anupam Kher
Anupam Kher who is an Indian actor was awarded the honorary citizens of the United States in 2015 for his work on many fronts. It was due to the rousing success of his show ‘Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha’ that gained him quite a following in Houston, Texas where the show was on great demand and had repeatedly sold out shows. The mayor, Annise Parker of Houston, Texas in fact has proclaimed that august 7th is now officially known as Anupam Kher day.
This day has been anointed in his name due to enthusiastic input and ability to add to the entertainment and culture of Houston. His honorary citizenship had been awarded to him for his appointment as the United Nations ambassador and his astounding work in the fight for gender equality. Anupam Kher worked for the He or She campaign that has been initiated by UN Women and has generated a lot of interest and popularity all over the world in its fight for equal rights for women in every aspect.
8. Bernando de Gálvez
Bernardo de Galvez was a Spaniard who was awarded the honorary citizens of the United States in 2014 for his efforts in the American Revolutionary War as he was renowned for taking the risk on his own life for the liberty of the people of the United States. Not only did he provide with intelligence, food supplies and an undeniably strong military support but he himself was wounded during the Siege of Pensacola that deemed him a hero in the eyes of the United States soldiers.
His life and work in the army was celebrated to the extent that the King of Spain Carlos III awarded him the right to the motto YO SOLO for his coat of arms. He was therefore suitably a revered figure in both the countries – Spain and the United States of America.
7. Casimir Pulaski
Casimir Pulaski was awarded the honorary citizens of the United States in 2009. He was in fact a Polish military officer and was given this honor because he fought and died in the American Revolutionary war, also known as the American War of Independence (1775-1783) against the British Empire.
He was a very renowned politician and was an esteemed member of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth nobility. In fact he had also been known as the “The Father of the American Cavalry” and died a noble death during the Siege of Savannah (which is now South Carolina) and indeed he is revered as a national hero both in United States and his country of birth, Poland.
6. Gilbert du Motier
Gilbert du Motier was originally from France who was awarded the honorary citizens of the United States in 2002. He was given this honor for his achievements for his wartime efforts and in fact due to his heroic leadership in the American Revolutionary War which is more commonly known as the American War of Independence (1775-1783). This historic war which was a conflict between Great Britain and thirteen North American colonies – led to the creation of the United States of America as we know of today.
5. Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa, whose real name is in fact Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu is one of the most popular figures in the world, was awarded the honorary citizens of the United States in 1996 for her unwavering efforts in helping the unfortunate and the needy.
Mother Teresa had founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 in Calcutta and this organization was more of a shelter for all the outcasts and poor who had been rejected any kind of help from all corners of the world. Mother Teresa is revered as the beacon of selflessness and her ability to provide for people from all backgrounds, races, castes and ages has made her such a globally popular figure.
Her missionaries initially were in India but were also established in the United States and hence the United States made it a point to award Mother Teresa for her efforts in helping mankind worldwide. She also received Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985.
4. Hannah Penn
Hannah Penn who was the wife of William Penn had played a very significant role in helping administrate and support her husband in the making of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Not only was Hannah Penn at the forefront of the administration for six years, but in fact she was a staunch believer of the concept of peaceful and nonviolent administration that her husband proposed. Together the husband and wife received their honorary citizens of the United States posthumously in 1981 and together made their mark in history.
3. William Penn
William Penn was a British citizen was awarded the honorary citizens of the United States in 1981 posthumously. William Penn is a significant character in history because it is him who founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States. William Penn had worked hard to ensure the rights of every man, woman and child in the province irrespective of their cast, creed and religion.
He vehemently opposed the concept of wars to solve international disputes and in fact created a Parliament of Nations which served the same purpose as the modern day United Nations.
2. Raoul Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg has been one of the only six people in the world to have been awarded honorary citizens of the United States posthumously. He was awarded this honor in 1981 and it was due to his heroic efforts and help in saving the lives of almost one hundred thousand innocent men, women and children in World War II in 1944.
The significance of this honorary citizens is that Raoul Wallenberg was in fact a Swedish diplomat who had no real responsibility or inclination to do any of what he did.
In fact, his heroic rescue is lauded as one of the most selfless acts of the time as he had no regard for the danger that surrounded him. He was taken under arrest in 1945 without any proper reasoning ever being explained and remained a prisoner of the Soviet Union till 1981.
1. Winston Churchill first Honorary Citizens of US
Sir Winston Churchill was the first honorary citizens of the United States of America and his induction was conducted in the year of 1963 while he remained the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Sir Winston Churchill was awarded the honorary citizenship by the current president of that time John F. Kennedy and it was due to his extensive achievements in the battlefield, his excellence as a leader and ruler along with his profound manner of oration and ultimately as a defender of freedom that he was given this honor.
Although Sir Winston Churchill was not able to attend his ceremony in person, this moment in history is important as it was the first time a non-national was awarded the honorary citizenship of the United States.