Sylvanus Thayer Award
The Sylvanus Thayer Award is an honor given annually by the United States Military Academy at West Point to an individual whose character and accomplishments exemplifies the motto of West Point. The award is named after the 'Father of the Military Academy,' Colonel Sylvanus Thayer. The awardee is selected by, and the award is endowed by, a committee formed from the West Point Association of Graduates. It has been awarded annually since 1958 and is the closest recognition West Point has to granting an honorary degree.
Official description of the award
"Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto: DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY."
The recipient of the Sylvanus Thayer Award receives a medal with a bust in profile of Thayer on one side, with the inscription: 'The Sylvanus Thayer Medal Awarded by the Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy, for Outstanding Service to the Nation.' The reverse side carries the coat of arms of the Military Academy and the words 'West Point" and "Duty, Honor, Country.' Around the edge of the medal are inscribed the name of the recipient and the year of presentation. In addition to receiving the medal, the recipient’s portrait and name is inscribed on a memorial in the Thayer Award Room in Taylor Hall, the headquarters of West Point.
Active-duty and retired American military servicemen or women are eligible for the award, but the majority are civilians who contributed to the US Government, the US Armed Forces, US national security and diplomacy, US civil rights or support of veterans in a positive way. The recipient must be a US Citizen, must not be a United States Military Academy graduate, and must receive the award in person during a ceremony with the entire Corps of Cadets. Early in its existence, three West Point graduates received the award - Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley - but graduates are no longer eligible. One United States Naval Academy graduate, Ross Perot, has received the award.
The following is the list of the award's recipients:
- 1958 – Dr. Ernest Lawrence (nuclear scientist, Nobel laureate)
- 1959 – Secretary John Foster Dulles
- 1960 – Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
- 1961 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower (General of the Army)
- 1962 – General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (Medal of Honor recipient)
- 1963 – Secretary John J. McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War, Allied High Commission and President of the World Bank)
- 1964 – Secretary Robert A. Lovett
- 1965 – Ambassador James B. Conant (President of Harvard University, United States Ambassador to West Germany)
- 1966 – Congressman Carl Vinson (Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee)
- 1967 – Cardinal Francis Spellman (Archbishop of New York)
- 1968 – Mr. Bob Hope (entertainer)
- 1969 – Secretary Dean Rusk
- 1970 – Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker
- 1971 – Mr. Neil Armstrong (astronaut)
- 1972 – Pastor Billy Graham (evangelist)
- 1973 – General of the Army Omar Bradley
- 1974 – Ambassador Robert Daniel Murphy
- 1975 – Governor W. Averell Harriman (Governor of New York, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs)
- 1976 – Secretary Gordon Gray (National Security Advisor, United States Secretary of the Army)
- 1977 – Secretary Robert T. Stevens (United States Secretary of the Army, businessman)
- 1978 – Mr. James R. Killian Jr. (President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chairman of President's Intelligence Advisory Board)
- 1979 – Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce (Congresswomen)
- 1980 – Father Theodore M. Hesburgh (President of University of Notre Dame)
- 1981 – Administrator James E. Webb (Administrator of NASA)
- 1982 – Mr. David Packard (businessman, Deputy Secretary of Defense)
- 1983 – General James H. Doolittle (Medal of Honor recipient)
- 1984 – Secretary Stanley Rogers Resor (United States Secretary of the Army)
- 1985 – Secretary Frank Pace Jr. (United States Secretary of the Army, businessman)
- 1986 – Dr. Edward Teller (nuclear scientist)
- 1987 – Senator Barry Goldwater
- 1988 – Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (Chief Justice)
- 1989 – President Ronald Reagan
- 1990 – Senator Mike Mansfield
- 1991 – Secretary Paul H. Nitze (Deputy Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy)
- 1992 – Secretary George Shultz
- 1993 – Secretary Cyrus R. Vance
- 1994 – President George Herbert Walker Bush
- 1995 – Congresswomen Barbara Jordan (civil rights leader)
- 1996 – General John W. Vessey
- 1997 – Mr. Walter Cronkite (newscaster)
- 1998 – General Colin Powell (US Secretary of State)
- 1999 – Mr. Norman R. Augustine (businessman, Under Secretary of the Army)
- 2000 – Secretary Henry Alfred Kissinger
- 2001 – Senator Daniel K. Inouye (Medal of Honor recipient)
- 2002 – The American Soldier[note 1]
- 2003 – General Gordon R. Sullivan
- 2004 – Senator Robert J. Dole
- 2005 – Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
- 2006 – Mr. Tom Brokaw (news reporter and author)
- 2007 – General Frederick Kroesen
- 2008 – Secretary William Perry
- 2009 – Mr. H. Ross Perot (businessman)
- 2010 – Secretary James Baker
- 2011 – Secretary Robert M. Gates
- 2012 – Congressman Ike Skelton (Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee)
- 2013 – Secretary Madeleine Albright
- 2014 – Secretary Condoleezza Rice
- 2015 – Mr. Gary Sinise (entertainer, advocate for veterans)
- 2016 – Director Robert S. Mueller
- 2017 – President George W. Bush
- 2018 – Secretary Leon E. Panetta (Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, White House Chief of Staff, Congressman)
- 2019 – General Ann E. Dunwoody
- 2020 – Ambassador Ryan Crocker
- The 2002 award was "dedicated to...all of the men and women who have served in the U.S. Army...in the history of the United States."
- List of recipients, West Point Association of Graduates
- The American Soldier, West Point Association of Graduates
- Rice receives Thayer Award at U.S. Military Academy, USA Today, October 6, 2014
- "West Point Association of Graduates". www.westpointaog.org.
- "West Point Association of Graduates". www.westpointaog.org. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
- "West Point Association of Graduates". www.westpointaog.org. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
- "West Point Association of Graduates".