LOS ANGELES: The Simon Wiesenthal Center has given an award to megastar actor Tom Cruise at a gala ceremony which also honored the foreman of the Chilean miners trapped underground for two months last year.
The celebrity Scientologist was lauded “for his longtime, consistent and substantial support” of the Los Angeles-based center named after Nazi-hunter Wiesenthal, and its Museum of Tolerance.
“For many years now, I have been a supporter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance,” said Cruise, receiving the Center's Humanitarian Award on Thursday night.
“I have taken my family to the museum so they could experience firsthand not only man's capacity for good, but the tragic story of man's inhumanity to man.
And he added: “Our challenge, ladies and gentlemen, is to make sure that we do all in our power to see to it that there will be no more Auschwitz-Birkenaus, no more Rwandas, no more Darfurs on our planet.
“That our children and their children may be free to live in a world where men and women are judged by their accomplishments and deeds rather than by their race or religion,” said Cruise.
The Wiesenthal Center also presented a Medal of Valor to Luis Alberto Urzua, the foreman of the 33 trapped Chilean miners whose calm leadership guided the men through their 69-day ordeal from August 5 to October 13 last year.
Also honored were Gyongyi Mago, a Hungarian schoolteacher, and posthumously Peter Bergson, who during the Holocaust challenged US authorities and Jewish groups to make the rescue of Europe's Jews a top priority.
On a topical note, Rabbi Marvin Hier paid tribute to US President Barack Obama over the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
“Let me also salute our president and the armed forces of the United States, for their great achievement in finally freeing the world from the tyranny of Osama Bin Laden.
“There is so much more to life then to waste it on hate and terror,” he said after cheers and applause greeted pictures of Obama shown on a giant screen.