13 Years Later – America Remembers
In the days, months and weeks after terrorists attacked our country on September 11, 2001, there was a widespread sense of patriotism and love between strangers across our country, united in grief for the thousands of lives lost in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. For the first time in a long time, there was a mass reemergence of American flags hung from homes and businesses. During national baseball games, there was a renewed sense of respect and reverence for the national anthem:
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
How sad is it that it took a devastating blow to national security to inspire Americans to band together, regardless of race, gender or creed? After seeing a need for sustained patriotism and love for fellow man, Major Herbert “Billâ€ Donahue, Jr. was inspired to create the American Patriot Award Program (APAP), a unique program designed to foster a sense of history, patriotism and civil service amongst our nation.
“A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting Another Candleâ€ ~ James Keller, clergyman
(1900 – 1977)
Like a wildfire, it only takes one tiny spark to ignite a spirit of generosity that can spread from coast to coast. By establishing the American Patriot Awards Program, Major Donahue hoped to illuminate those ordinary citizens who do extraordinary things for their communities, homes, churches, workplaces and schools. The winners of our distinguished award categories will be individuals who innovate and explore, sacrifice and cultivate all for the sake of improving the lives of others.
In June 2009, United American Patriots held its first recognition program at the Speedway Club Restaurant at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Back then, the recipient of the Young American Patriot Award – the sole APAP category – was Ryan Rust. Then 16 years old, Rust was an academically gifted junior NASCAR driver who created the “Adopt-A-Marine” program. This free, conscientious program links supportive American families with Marines serving overseas so that they may be a little more comfortable while away from home. Thanks in part to our efforts to honor and promote Rust’s program, Adopt-A-Marine received national and local exposure. Now, the program has expanded to include all branches of the Armed Forces and to date, has helped over 62,000 care packages get to men and women deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Honoring Ordinary People Who Do Extraordinary Things
As the sole sponsor of the program, Major Donahue financed and promoted APAP with national print and radio advertising calling for nominations of individuals deserving of this prestigious honor. The program received over fifty nominations. A close contender to Rustâ€™s Adopt-A-Marine program raised funds for scholarships for children of disabled veterans. A noble cause, indeed! But Rustâ€™s program was deserving of this prestigious award and has continued to experience sustained success.
Our inaugural awards program was met with resounding praise! After considering the hundreds of correspondence regarding the positive social implications of such a program, the Board of Directors and Major Donahue – president and founder of UAP and a twenty-nine year veteran of the United States Marine Corp (Retired) decided to expand the program to include ten (10) categories. In years to come, we hope to continue to expand our recognition program and fan the flames of civic responsibility.
Who is Cpl. Michael Anderson, Jr.?
The Young American Patriot Award is named in honor of Cpl. Michael Anderson, Jr., a member of the USMC who was killed In Combat Action on 14 Dec 2004, during Operation Phantom Fury. A recipient of the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal from the Marine Corps, Cpl. Anderson was killed in Fallujah as his squad traveled from house to house on rooftops searching for enemy insurgents amidst heavy gunfire and explosives. A brave leader and passionate about his service in the Marines, he believed in protecting the freedoms so many American citizens take for granted. By honoring his memory with the Young American Patriot Award, we hope to inspire future generations to give of their time and talent in order to make the world a better place in which to live.
Click here to learn more: The American Patriot Award Program