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American Spirit Awards Honor Local Students for Leadership and Volunteerism

June 21, 2021
Gary Lorio
Gary Lorio

Each year Hancock Whitney is proud to partner with the National WWII Museum to present the American Spirit Awards to celebrate individuals and organizations whose work reflect the values and spirit of those who served our country during the World War II years.

During this year’s virtual experience, museum supporters from across the country honored the 2021 American Spirit Award, American Spirit Medallion, Silver Service Medallion, and Billy Michal Student Leadership Award recipients including two students from our banking footprint.

Vivienne Webb of Shreveport, Louisiana and Madhalasa Iyer of Plano, Texas received the national honor that is awarded annually to one student in every state who has maintained a strong record of volunteerism, demonstrates school and community activism, and helps implement creative solutions to recognized problems.


Meet the local honorees

V_Webb-1Vivienne, a 15-year-old, from Shreveport is active with Louisiana Developmental Disability Council's Advocacy Network (LaCAN) as a disability’s rights advocate, she is the Be Strong representative for her region, and she herself has Autism, Anxiety, & Epilepsy, none of which slow her down. The Caddo Magnet High student who also participates in the Talented Arts Program in Visual Arts successfully provided testimony to the Louisiana Capitol, advocating and obtaining $2 million in funding for the lowest-funded Human Service Districts so they could better serve their communities.


MadhalasaLiberty High School sophomore, Madhalasa is 15 years old, and a three-time Texas History day winner hailing form Plano, Texas. Her projects led her to develop a deep affinity and respect toward the world war veterans, historians, and our military members. She is a two-time Gold Medal winner in the poetry/essay contest from the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. She received the Presidential Gold Voluntary Service Award and the Presidential Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) for her humanitarian work. She is currently writing a historical fiction on the partition and is a Gold Key winner for her piece in the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.


First presented in 2017, the student leadership award honors Billy Michal, who as a 6-year-old living in Louisiana during World War II helped his one-room school win a statewide scrap metal collection contest, proving every citizen could contribute to victory. This achievement demonstrated the positive impact the American spirit could have on the Home Front war efforts, and Billy’s legacy continues to inspire students across America today.


Honoring acts of courage, sacrifice, initiative and generosity

In addition to the Billy Michal winners, the recipients of the museum's American Spirit Award, American Spirit Medallion and Silver Service Medallion will be honored throughout the event. The 2021 American Spirit Award honorees include World War II veteran Richard Duchossois, world-renowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., PhD., military historian Victor Davis Hanson, PhD., and former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor the Honorable Henry Kissinger.

Proceeds from the American Spirit Awards supports 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 resources to students around the world.