American Spirit Awards

June 8-10, 2017
The National WWII Museum

American Spirit Awards

The American Spirit Awards is an awards gala celebrating individuals and organizations whose work reflects the values and spirit of those who served our country during the World War II years. We honor those who inspire others through their own acts of courage, sacrifice, initiative and generosity—particularly in the areas of leadership, service to country or community and education.

Proceeds from the American Spirit Awards will support educational programming at The National WWII Museum—including the ongoing development of classroom materials and professional development opportunities for teachers in schools across the country as well as online experiences that bring the Museum and its research resources to students around the world.

Event Schedule

  • Thursday, June 8, 2017
  • Awards Luncheon
  • Patron Party
  • Friday, June 9, 2017
  • American Spirit Awards Gala
  • Attire: Black-Tie
    Complimentary Valet Parking Available

The American Spirit Award

Help us select the recipient of the 2017 American Spirit Award

  • Nominate Our Next Recipient!
  • Do you know someone who exemplifies the outstanding qualities of the American Spirit—including teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice—and who inspires the expression of these values in others? Nominate them for next year's award.
  • Nominate

    Nominations must be received by August 31, 2016.

The American Spirit Award recognizes individuals who best exemplify the outstanding qualities of the American Spirit, including teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice, and who inspire the exploration and expression of these values through their own lives and activities. The Award recognizes those who demonstrate through word and deed an extraordinary dedication to the enduring principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy. The Award recognizes those who made unselfish contributions to their community, state or nation, who lead by example, and who exhibit the highest standards of integrity, discipline and initiative.

Past Recipients

Dr. Stephen E. Ambrose
Mr. Howard Baker
Vernon Baker
Van T. Barfoot
Ambassador Corinne "Lindy" C. Boggs
Mr. Tom Brokaw
President George H.W. Bush
Senator Robert Dole
Walter D. Ehlers
John Finn
Mr. Tom Hanks
Arthur J. Jackson
Charles P. Murray, Jr.
Secretary George P. Shultz
Herschel W. Williams

2016 American Spirit Medallion Recipients

Help us select the recipient of the 2017 American Spirit Medallion

  • Nominate Our Next Recipient!
  • Do you know someone who demonstrates extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy? Nominate them for an American Spirit Medallion.
  • Nominate

    Nominations must be received by August 31, 2016.

This prestigious honor is bestowed upon individuals who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy. Through their work and philanthropy, American Spirit Medallion recipients exemplify the highest standards of integrity, discipline, and initiative while making unselfish contributions to their community, state, or the nation.

Norman C. Francis, PhD
  • Dr. Norman C. Francis
  • As president of the nation's only historically black and Catholic university from 1968 to 2015, Dr. Francis guided Xavier University’s growth both in size and dimension. Through his leadership, the university instituted a core curriculum and mandatory comprehensives, and was nationally recognized as a leader in minority education. Named by his peers as one of the 100 most effective college and university leaders, Dr. Francis, who retired as president at the conclusion of the 2014–2015 school year, is often cited for his involvement in the community and his work on the national, state, and local level to improve education. He has served as an advisor to eight US presidential administrations on education and Civil Rights issues, and has served on 54 boards and commissions. In 2006, President George W. Bush presented him with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Gov. William Winter
  • Governor William Winter
  • Before leading the State of Mississippi as Governor from 1980 to 1984, William Winter served as an infantry officer in the Pacific during World War II. After returning home from the war, he began a career in public service with election to the state offices of representative, tax collector, treasurer, and lieutenant governor. Throughout his career, Winter’s mission has been to strengthen public education while championing racial reconciliation as well as historic preservation. He was a member of President Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race and was instrumental in the founding of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. He was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Past Recipients

WWII Veterans Serving in Congress in 2004
Vice Admiral Thad W. Allen
Former Senator Howard Baker
Mr. Vernon Baker
Mr. Van T. Barfoot
Mr. Tom Brokaw
Former President George H.W. Bush
Former Senator Robert “Bob” Dole
Rear Admiral Robert F. Duncan
Colonel Terry Ebbert
Mr. Walter D. Ehlers
Mr. John Finn
Dr. Norman C. Francis
Mr. Maurice “Hank” Greenberg
Mr. Tom Hanks
Lieutenant General. Russell L. Honorè
Mrs. Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
Mr. Arthur J. Jackson
Mr. Peter Kalikow
Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
Mr. Charles P. Murray, Jr.
General Colin Powell
Former Secretary of State George Shultz
Mr. Gary Sinise
Mr. John Whitehead
Governor William Winter

2016 Silver Service Medallion Recipients

The President of The National WWII Museum awards this medal to veterans and those with a direct connection to World War II who have served our country with distinction and, upon retirement, continue to lead by example.

Jerry Yellin
  • Mr. Jerry Yellin
  • In 1942, two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain Jerry Yellin volunteered for the US Army Air Forces on his eighteenth birthday. Captain Yellin participated in the first land-based fighter mission over Japan on April 7, 1945. He also has the unique distinction of having flown the final combat mission of World War II on August 14, 1945—the day the war ended. On that mission, his wingman, Phillip Schlamberg, was the last man killed in combat during World War II. After the war, Jerry went on to write about his experiences during World War II and is the author of numerous books, including Of War and Weddings, The Blackened Canteen, The Resilient Warrior, and The Letter.
Richard E. Cole
  • Mr. Richard E. Cole
  • Richard “Dick” Cole is the last remaining member of the Doolittle Raiders, the 80 servicemen who struck the first major blow against Japan in World War II. On April 18, 1942, he was in the copilot’s seat of General Jimmy Doolittle’s B-25, bound on a one-way trip over Tokyo on the first American counterstrike of the war. After reaching mainland Asia in the B-25, Cole remained in the China-Burma-India theater for over a year after the Doolittle Raid, and returned to service there from October 1943 to June 1944, before being relieved from active duty in January 1947. Cole was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Chinese Army, Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st grade for his service during World War II. Cole retired from the US Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Betty Reid Soskin
  • Mrs. Betty Reid Soskin
  • Betty Soskin (née Charbonnet) grew up in a Cajun/Creole African American family that settled in the East Bay, near San Francisco, after the historic floods that devastated parts of Louisiana in 1927. Betty worked in a segregated Union hall, Boilermakers A-36, during World War II as a file clerk. Betty has since held positions as staff to a Berkeley city council member and as a field representative serving West Contra Costa County for two members of the California State Assembly. On December 3, 2015, she was selected by the National Park Service to participate in the national tree-lighting ceremony in President’s Park at the White House and to introduce President Barack Obama in the nationwide PBS telecast. At 94, Soskin still works as a park ranger for the Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California.

Past Recipients

Dr. Harold Baumgarten
Lieutenant General John W. Bergman
Colonel Thomas Beron
Mr. Richard E. Cole
Mr. Harry Connick, Sr.
Former Senator Elizabeth Dole
Brigadier General Mark A. Graham
Major Norman Hatch
Rear Admiral Joseph Kilkenny
Major General Bennett C. Landreneau
Mr. Dwight Landreneau
Brigadier General Ralph Lupin
Major General Scott Mays
Former Senator George McGovern
Mr. Ralph Morse
Mr. Amos Pierce
Mr. Carl Reiner
Superintendent Warren Riley
Mrs. Betty Reid Soskin
Mr. Bert Stolier
Dr. Lester Tenney
The Armed Forces
Colonel Henry L. Whitehorn
Mr. Jerry Yellin

Sponsorship & Patron Opportunities

Sponsorship Opportunities

  • $20,000
  • 10 tickets for the Patron Party + Gala + Post-Party
  • Photo opportunity for two couples at the 2017 American Spirit Awards with inclusion in post-event marketing materials (when available)
  • 2018 Normandy Academy Scholar Sponsorship
  • 2017–2018 Patriots Circle Membership
  • $15,000
  • 10 tickets for the Patron Party + Gala + Post-Party
  • Photo opportunity for one couple at the 2017 American Spirit Awards with inclusion in post-event marketing materials (when available)
  • 2018 Summer Residential Program Scholar Sponsorship
  • $10,000
  • 10 tickets for the Patron Party + Gala + Post-Party
  • $2,500
    Veteran Supporter
  • Donation to allow a WWII Veteran and one guest access to the Patron Party + Gala + Post Party

Patron Opportunities

  • $1,000
    Individual Patron Ticket
  • Includes Admittance to the Patron Party + Gala + Post Party
  • $750
    Member Patron Ticket
    Active Museum Membership Required
  • Includes Admittance to the Patron Party + Gala + Post Party
  • Purchase
  • $500
    Individual Gala Ticket
  • Includes Admittance to the Gala + Post Party
  • Purchase
  • I am unable to attend, but wish to make a contribution on behalf of the American Spirit Awards Education Fund

Education at the Museum

The National WWII Museum is a dynamic educational resource, serving the needs of teachers and students from grade school through the post-graduate level. USA Today gave the Museum its top rank as one of the “Best Places to Learn US Military History." Exhibitions and programs allow students from all backgrounds to explore the values and beliefs—the universal concepts—that Americans and their Allies embraced during World War II.

For more information, contact our Fundraising Events staff at 504-528-1944 x 334 or x 365.