November 16, 2011
Grateful Nation Awards presented the same evening
On Monday, November 7, JINSA held its 2011 Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award & Grateful Nation Awards Dinner. For the 29th consecutive year, JINSA honored a leader whose career has been distinguished by the principle that is the foundation of JINSA's work; the belief that the United States requires a strong military capability for both its own security and for that of trustworthy friends and allies. This year’s Jackson Award recipient was Admiral James G. Stavridis, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, European Command and Commander of U.S. European Command.
As a junior officer, Admiral Stavridis first visited Israel in 1980. He said he came away with impressions that remain with him today. Courage, sacrifice, and memory are the words he used to describe the State of Israel. He described how he recently visited the Iron Dome missile defense system and how these kinds of innovations are example of what he believes to be one of Israel’s greatest qualities.
Admiral Stavridis also used Iron Dome as an example of how the U.S. Department of Defense can help with Israeli innovation to make Israel more secure. According to Admiral Stavridis, “I am confident that the United States and Israel will continue to work closely together across the spectrum of national activity…as we continue into this turbulent 21st century, we will work across and even wider spectrum.”
"One of the great benefits of my job, as the commander of the U.S. European Command," Adm. Stavridis said, "is that I am charged with military-to-military relations between the United States and Israel. I'm fortunate to travel there often .... I learn more about Israel with every visit .... [and I continue to learn when] I can come to this JINSA-sponsored event and have a chance to talk about Israel."
What does the future hold?, Adm. Stavridis asked. "I am confident that the United States and Israel will continue to work closely together across the spectrum of national activity; certainly in the military-to-military venue. But I believe as we continue into this turbulent 21st century, we will work across an even wider spectrum - one that will focus on cyber, on trafficking, on piracy, on smuggling, as well as the traditional threats that we face. I believe the future is bright in every sense - in the context of cooperation and friendship and dedication between the United States and the state of Israel."
Presenting the award to Admiral Stavridis was Dr. John Markis, representing the Behrakis Foundation. In the course of introducing Admiral Stavridis, Dr. Markis noted that, “Admiral Stavridis is the highest ranking Greek-American in the history of the United States military…he is an outstanding American that is dedicated to national security.”
In addition to the Jackson Award, JINSA presented six young military heroes with the Grateful Nation Award for the eighth time since 2003. The honorees represent each of the five branches of the U.S. military and the U.S. Special Operations Command and were recognized for having distinguished themselves through superior conduct in the War on Terrorism. JINSA President David Ganz, Mr. John Rood from the Raytheon Company, sponsor of the Grateful Nation Award, and Admiral Stavridis presented the awards while the crowd of more than 700 heard a recitation of each honoree’s achievements.
The JINSA National Leadership Award was also presented that night. The prestigious award was bestowed upon Mr. Robert M. Keats, an Officer of JINSA's Board of Directors. Mr. Keats was recognized for his 20 years of activity within JINSA, including his service on JINSA’s Executive Board and his steadfast commitment to JINSA’s mission. A humanitarian, philanthropist, American patriot, and an unwavering supporter of Israel, Mr. Keats is most deserving of JINSA’s National Leadership Award. As he told the audience that night, “I serve JINSA because JINSA uniquely links my soul's desire for a safe and secure Israel to my immense pride in America's incredible achievements.”
In his remarks, Admiral Stavridis gave a special thanks to JINSA’s honored guests and extended a heartfelt welcome to the attending family members of the seven Navy SEALs who perished in the August 6 helicopter crash in Afghanistan. JINSA was honored to bring these families to Washington. The seven SEALs, along with others from Naval Special Warfare Command, attended the 2010 dinner to support the family of Grateful Nation Award honoree, Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Adam L. Brown, who was killed in combat in Afghanistan.