The National WW II Museum commissioned Bennett Awards to create a new set of custom medallions for their American Spirit Awards. The American Spirit Awards recognize individuals and organizations whose work reflects the values and spirit of those who served our country during the World War II years. These recognition awards 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.
The National WW II Museum worked with Bennett Awards to create two unique custom medallion designs. The first, the American Spirit Medallion, honors 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.
The 2016 recipients of the American Spirit Medallion were Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University, the nation's only historically black and Catholic university, from 1968 to 2015; and Governor William Winter, the governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. Past recipients of this award include former President George H.W. Bush, former Senator Robert “Bob” Dole, former Secretary of State George Schultz, General Colin Powell, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Hank Greenberg, Tom Brokaw, and Tom Hanks.
The second recognition award, the Silver Service Medallion, honor 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. The 2016 recipients of this award were Mr. Jerry Yellin, who participated in both the first land-based fighter mission over Japan, and the final combat mission on the day WW II ended; Mr. Richard E. Cole, the last remaining member of the “Doolittle Raiders”, the 80 servicemen who struck the first blow against Japan in World War II; and Mrs. Betty Reid Soskin, a park ranger for the Rosie the Riveter World War II/Home Front National Historical Park, who was named as a Women of the Year by the California State Legislature, and one of the nation’s 10 outstanding women by the National Women’s History Project. Past recipients of the Silver Service Medallion include Robert “Bob” Dole, Elizabeth Dole, George McGovern, Carl Reiner, and Hank Greenberg.
Bennett Awards created both of these unique custom medallion designs from pewter. The American Spirit Medallions measured 3 3/8” in diameter and ¼” thick, and were plated in bronze. The Silver Service Medallions measured 3” in diameter and 1/8” thick, and featured a brushed pewter finish. Both medallions featured a raised relief of the award icon on the front, the National WW II Museum logo on the back, and the award name and other design elements sculpted into both sides of the medallion.
The 2016 American Spirit Awards Gala was held June 10, 2016, at the National WW II Museum in New Orleans, LA.
Designated by Congress as the official WWII museum of the United States, The National WWII Museum is located in downtown New Orleans on a six-acre campus, where five soaring pavilions house historical exhibits, on-site restoration work, a period dinner theater, and restaurants. A capital expansion program includes the construction of two additional pavilions in coming years, cementing the institution as a state-of-the-art educational institution and a premiere destination for travelers from around the world.