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American Spirit Awards Honor Those Who Continue to Inspire Us

June 17, 2016
Gary Lorio
Gary Lorio

The values and spirit of those who served our country during World War II were celebrated recently at the National World War II Museum.


American Spirit Awards Silver Service Medallion Winners and the Victory Belles


The War That Changed the World

Last week, Whitney Bank was honored to host the 2016 American Spirit Awards Gala, which was held in New Orleans for the first time. The Awards were given to five persons who have demonstrated the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice that were exemplified by America’s “Greatest Generation.”

As the son of a World War II veteran and a lifelong New Orleanian, it is a privilege to celebrate these heroes and the values they represent. I’m proud of our company’s ongoing support of the museum and its mission of educating current and future generations about the men and women who fought the war that changed the world.

That support reflects our commitment to enhancing opportunities and the quality of life of people and the communities we serve. Since its opening in 2000, the National World War II Museum has had a significant financial impact on New Orleans and Louisiana, contributing $1.18 billion to the local economy. Additionally, the museum campus provides over 300 full time equivalent jobs.

The 2016 American Spirit Award recipients include representatives from across the nation, all of whom have inspired others through their own acts of courage, initiative, generosity and contributions to their community, state and nation.


American Spirit Awards - Dr. Nick Mueller, Dr. Norman C. Francis, Jim  Courtier


American Spirit Awards - Jim Courtier, Governor William Winter, Dr. Nick Mueller


American Spirit Medallions

American Spirit Medallions were awarded to Dr. Norman C. Francis, president of Xavier University in New Orleans from 1968 to 2015; and Governor William Winter, governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. The American Spirit Medallion is bestowed upon persons who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy.

Dr. Nick Mueller, Capt. Jerry Yellin, Jim Courtier


American Spirit Awards - Betty Reid Soskin, Jim Courtier



Silver Service Medallions

Silver Service Medallions are awarded to veterans who have served our country with distinction and, upon retirement, continue to lead by example. Recipients were Capt. Jerry Yellin, who served with the 78th Fighter Squadron in the Pacific and flew the last combat mission of the war, later recounting his experiences as the author of several books; Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, one of the remaining two Doolittle Raiders, who continued his distinguished military career and retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of lieutenant colonel; and Betty Reid Soskin, who supported the war effort on the home front as a businesswoman, served her community on the staffs of members of the Berkeley City Council and California State Assembly, and at age 94 currently works as a park ranger for the Rosie the Riveter WWII/Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California.


Many enjoyed the great fun at the American Spirit Awards Gala.

We congratulate the American Spirit Award winners, whose selflessness, patriotism, and dedication to ensuring our freedom continue to inspire us.