American Patriot of Character Award

The American Patriot of Character Award recognizes citizens of great character whose leadership and service exemplify the very best of our nation’s founding principles and ideals.

Past Recipients

John Lewis


“The life of John Lewis exemplifies the civic virtues essential for sustaining and expanding the American belief in ‘liberty and justice for all,’” said Charles Haynes,’s board chair. “A man of unparalleled courage, compassion and integrity, John Lewis embodies what it means to be an American patriot of character.”

As a child Congressman Lewis experienced injustice for the first time when he was denied access to a local library. Deeply impacted by his experiences and inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Lewis joined the Civil Rights Movement. He helped organize sit-ins and joined the Freedom Rides in 1961. Lewis became known as one of the ‘Big Six’ of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and spoke alongside Dr. King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington.

Lewis is currently serving his 15th term with the Congressional District of Atlanta, Georgia; amounting to nearly 30-years of service to the area.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor


Born in El Paso, Texas, on March 26, 1930, Sandra Day O’Connor was elected to two terms in the Arizona state senate. In 1981, Ronald Reagan nominated her as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and she received unanimous Senate approval. O’Connor made history as the first woman justice to serve on the Supreme Court. As a justice, O’Connor was as a key swing vote in many important cases, including the upholding of Roe v. Wade. She retired in 2006, after serving for 24 years. After retirement, O’Connor launched iCivics, an online civics education venture aimed at middle school students. As she explained to Parade magazine, “We have a complex system of government. You have to teach it to every generation.” She has also authored several books in addition to her efforts to advance young people’s understanding of government. She penned the 2008 children’s book Finding Susie and the 2013 judicial memoir The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice.

Richard Pieper


Norman Augustine


S. Truett Cathy


Gen. Colin Powell


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