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American Spirit Awards: celebrating leadership and service to country

June 23, 2017
Gary Lorio
Gary Lorio

The American Spirit Awards honor the spirit and values of those who served our country during World War II and throughout our history. Whitney Bank is a proud sponsor of the awards and was privileged to host the 2017 honorees recently at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.


Leadership, Service and Education

More than 70 years ago, ordinary Americans with extraordinary courage fought for and protected our democracy against unfathomable oppression. The American Spirit Awards recognize individuals and organizations whose work reflects the values and spirit of the men and women of the Greatest Generation: teamwork, leadership, service to country, education and preservation of American history. The 2017 honorees represent all parts of our nation, and inspire others through their own acts of courage, initiative, generosity and service to their communities.


2017 American Spirit Awards
The American Spirit Awards were presented by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans to two honorees that exemplify the principles that strengthen and preserve America's freedom and democracy. Left to right, Stephen Watson, Incoming President and CEO, National World War II Museum; ASA honoree David M. Rubenstein; Ann Hairston; John Hairston, president and CEO of Hancock Holding Company; ASA honoree David McCullough; and Dr. Gordon "Nick" Mueller, Founding President and CEO of the National World War II Museum.


American Spirit Award

American Spirit Awards were presented to acclaimed author and historian David McCullough, who has received the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Presidential Medal of Freedom during his celebrated career; and David M. Rubenstein, attorney, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, and former assistant for domestic policy for President Jimmy Carter. The American Spirit Award recognizes individuals who demonstrate through word and deed an extraordinary dedication to the enduring principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy.


American Spirit Medallion

Since its beginning as the National D-Day Museum, the National World War II Museum has bestowed this award upon individuals who, through their work and philanthropy, exemplify the highest standards of integrity, discipline, and initiative while making unselfish contributions to their communities. The 2017 recipients of the American Spirit Medallions are businessman and philanthropist James L. Barksdale; Apollo astronaut Captain James A. Lovell Jr.; and Phyllis M. Taylor, chairman and CEO of Taylor Energy Company.


Silver Service Medallion

The president of the National World War II Museum awards the Silver Service Medallion to veterans and those with a direct connection to World War II who have served our country with distinction and continue to lead by example. The 2017 recipients of the Silver Service Medallions are John P. Laborde, who served in the Pacific theater as a captain on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff and is a co-founder of Tidewater Marine Service; Cathy Long, who served in the Navy as a Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class and was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives from Louisiana; Billy Michal, who contributed to the war effort as a child in Louisiana and became a successful dentist and an instructor at Loyola University and LSU; Sgt. Mike Mervosh, who saw action in the Pacific theatre, earning two Purple Hearts and the Navy Commendation Medal, and who was decorated in three wars, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War; Norman Y. Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Secretary of Transportation, whose distinguished career in public service involved advances in transportation, aviation, surface transportation, infrastructure and national security; David L. Oreck, who served in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific theatre, and went on to business success as the creator the Oreck vacuum cleaner; and the Honorable Kaliste J. Saloom Jr., who saw action in World War II as a U.S. Army special agent in the Counter-Intelligence Corps in Europe and North Africa, and who went on to become a City Court Judge in Lafayette, Louisiana.


The bravery and sacrifice of ordinary Americans secured freedom for the world. Whitney Bank is honored to support the National World War II Museum’s commitment to preserving their story by celebrating those who lead, serve, and inspire us today through their honor, integrity and selfless service to our country.