Public Spirit Award

  • Public Spirit Award

    Inspiring actions often inspire others to action. The American Legion Auxiliary’s prestigious Public Spirit Award recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations for contributions that positively impact communities through service to our military, veterans, and their families. Every year, we celebrate those who make a difference through a creative body of work or even a single generous act. Previous recipients have included U.S. presidents and government officials as well as regular citizens who saw a need and took action.

    Established in 1983, this award is presented at the American Legion Auxiliary’s annual Washington DC Conference. The recipient is selected by the American Legion Auxiliary national president and must be present to accept the award.


    2014 Public Spirit Award

    Public Spirt Award 2014

    The American Legion Auxiliary has awarded Sarah Smiley, author of Dinner with the Smileys, and her family – husband Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Smiley, and sons Ford (12), Owen (10) and Lindell (6) – with its prestigious Public Spirit Award. American Legion Auxiliary National President Nancy Brown-Park presented the award at a special reception in the Smileys’ honor March 25 at the Auxiliary’s annual Washington DC Conference.

    Sarah Smiley is author of the best-selling book Dinner with the Smileys, in which she chronicled a year of weekly dinners with community members and leaders while her Navy husband was deployed.

    “I was moved when I read Sarah’s book,” said Brown-Park. “The sacrifices she, her husband, and their sons have made for our country are commendable – they are the sacrifices military families everywhere make every day. We honor their dedication and applaud the awareness Sarah has brought to the military family community.” View News Release


  • Year Recipient Title/Organization ALA National President
    2014 Sarah Smiley and family Author of Dinner with the Smileys Nancy Brown-Park
    2013 Bonnie Carroll President and Founder of TAPS Peggy Thomas
    2012 Col. Jill Chambers (Ret.) and Michael Peterson This Able Vet LLC Kris Nelson
    2011 Ronald A. Katz Operation Mend Carlene Ashworth
    2010 John Wordin Founder, Ride 2 Recovery Rita Navarreté
    2009 Michele Cuppy; Morrill Worcester President/CFO, Sew Much Comfort; Owner, Worcester Wreath Company Desireé Stoy
    2008 Karen Degner; Elizabeth Johnston; Marian Chirichella; Karen Grimord ALA Member & Coordinator for Military Families Connect; ALA Member & President/Founder, Mothers of Military Support; ALA Member & Founder, Angels of Mercy; ALA Member & President/Founder, the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project Jan Pulvermacher-Ryan
    2007 Kaziah Hancock Artist/Founder, Project Compassion Soldier Fund, Inc. JoAnn Cronin
    2006 R. James Nicholson, on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary of Veterans Affairs Carol Van Kirk
    2005 Madeleine Albright Former Secretary of State Sandi Dutton
    2004 Alma Powell America’s Promise & Best Friends Foundation Katherine Morris
    2003 America's Spirit Award Randy Fogle & John Ogle, Foremen at a Pennsylvania Mine Elsie Bailey
    2002 Pete Teahen American Red Cross Volunteer, National Spokesperson & Funeral Director Sherry McLaughlin
    2001 Jane Powell Actress Kristine West
    2000 Heather French Miss America Elizabeth Stewart
    1999 James Redford James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness Virginia Hobbs
    1998 John Schneider Actor Barbara Kranig
    1997 Hillary Rodham Clinton First Lady Phyllis Bachman
    1996 Zachary & Elizabeth Fisher Fisher House Syble Deshotel
    1995 Ann Landers Columnist Linda Newsome
    1994 The Charcter Counts Coalition
    Helen Holcomb
    1993 Stephen Peck Film Maker & President of the Far From Home Foundation Linda Boone
    1992 Maj. Robin Higgins, USMC, on behalf of her husband, Marine Lt. Col. William "Rich" Higgins Higgins, USMC U.S. Marine Corps Margaret Yankovich
    1991 Dr. Robert H. Schuller Minister Ruby Paul
    1990 Marie Guadalupe "Lupe" Vasquez Stanford University Student Betty Calder
    1989 Rose Kushner Founder/Executive Director, The Breast Cancer Advisory Center (Kensington, MD) Alice Galka
    1988 James L. Roberts on behalf of the Citizens of Midland, Texas Fire Chief of Midland, Texas Pearl Behrend
    1987 Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Former Ambassador Evelyn Starr
    1986 Kenneth Wooden Founder/Director, National Coalition for Children's Justice Josie Melgard
    1985 Ray A. Kroc Founder, McDonald's restaurants Helen Gardner
    1984 Charles P. Shultz Secretary of State Anna Gear
    1983 Caspar Weinberger Secretary of Defense June Stolte
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