Washington, Oct 21 (IANS): President Barack Obama has honoured Indian American activist Vijaya Emani posthumously with the Presidential Citizens Medal for "her courage in overcoming and speaking out against domestic abuse" in the Indian-American community.
"Breaking long-held taboos, Vijaya Emani lent her voice to protect Indian-American women from domestic violence," said Obama presenting the nation's second-highest civilian honour to Emani's daughters, Sujata and Nirmala Emani, in the East Room of the White House Thursday.
Flanked by life-size portraits of George and Martha Washington, Obama called Emani and 12 other recipients of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal "a remarkable group of Americans" who were "united by the choices they made" to help others in need.
"Taken from us far too soon, she was a trailblazer who shared her personal story to help other battered women overcome abusive relationships," Obama said of Emani who was killed Jan 15, 2009 at the age of 51 in a road accident.
"With boundless energy and an insatiable drive to serve her community, she threw herself into numerous causes, from supporting single parents to honouring India's cultural heritage.
"The United States honours Vijaya Emani for her many contributions to the people of Cleveland and our nation," he said amid Applause.
"Vijaya Emani became a role model for victims of domestic abuse because of her strength and determination in overcoming domestic abuse in her own life, and by speaking out about the issue publicly, she broke a long held taboo in the Indian American community," a White House announcement said.
"Emani lived and breathed many causes including projects to aid the homeless and promoting diversity. Although she was killed in a tragic vehicle accident, her example and message live on," it said.