The Air Force announcement of the award
The organizer of the largest event honoring
armed forces veterans in the state of Missouri has been named winner of the Air Force's
American Spirit Award.
Mary McCleary Posner, a Columbia. Mo.
businesswoman, was presented the award during the annual Memorial Day Weekend
Corporation's Salute to Veterans Celebration in mid-Missouri. The American Spirit Award is
presented by the Air Force Recruiting Service to civilians and civilian organizations who
consistently exhibit the highest principles of patriotism and service to the nation. It is
the Recruiting Service's highest form of civilian recognition.
General Lloyd W. Newton, USAF, Commander of Air Education
and Training Command presented the award to Mrs. Posner during one of two days of free
airshows held during the six-day event. General Newton attended the 10th Anniversary of
the Salute to Veterans Celebration as an Honored Guest. Posner joins an impressive list of
distinguished Americans previously presented the award, including entertainers Lee
Greenwood and Dolly Patton, radio personality Paul Harvey and former U.S. Senator Margaret
Chase Smith. Comedian Bob Hope received the first award in 1980.
"Through her selfless actions, Mary
Posner exemplifies the very best of the American Spirit," said Col. Peter Sutton,
commander of Air Force Recruiting Service here. "She is the driving force behind the
annual Salute to Veterans, which honors veterans of all American conflicts and has become
the largest event of its kind in the nation."
The Salute to Veterans Celebration, in the
city of Columbia, Mo. includes two days of airshows, a parade, a school visit program and
memorial ceremonies attended by more than 100,000 visitors. Posner also works hand-in-hand
with local recruiters to increase awareness of the contributions of the military and to
spread the word about military opportunities for young people.
Upon receiving the award, Posner said,
"More than 3000 volunteers and 65 committee chairmen are involved in organizing this
event each year, and I accept this award on their behalf."
Posner was Missouri Chairman for the Korean
War Veterans Memorial that was dedicated in Washington, D.C. In 1990, she was awarded
honorary membership in the Korean War Veterans Association, an honor she shares with Bob
Hope and former President Reagan.