American Spirit Awards

American Spirit Awards

May 23–24, 2024
presented by Hancock Whitney

American Spirit Awards

The American Spirit Awards celebrate individuals and organizations whose work reflects the values and spirit of those who served our country during the World War II years. We honor those who inspire others through their own acts of courage, sacrifice, initiative, and generosity—particularly in the areas of leadership, service to country or community, and education.

The Billy Michal Student Leadership Award is presented annually to one student from each state and the District of Columbia who demonstrates the American spirit in his or her community. The values of leadership, teamwork, tolerance, creativity, and perseverance can and should be learned and lived by all Americans regardless of age.

Proceeds from the American Spirit Awards support educational programming at The National WWII Museum—including the ongoing development of classroom materials and professional-development opportunities for teachers in schools across the country, as well as online experiences that bring the Museum and its resources to students around the world.

Event Details

THURSDAY, May 23, 2024
American Spirit Awards Recipient and Patron Reception
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
Cocktail Attire

Guests will experience a taste of New Orleans during this elegant jazz reception as we toast the American Spirit Award recipients.

FRIDAY, May 24, 2024
American Spirit Awards Billy Michal Student Leadership Forum
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Business Attire

Leading through example is a hallmark of the Museum’s honorees, and at the Luncheon and Leadership Forum, recipients will share their experiences with 51 student leaders from throughout the country, offering motivating advice to tomorrow’s leaders.

American Spirit Awards Gala
Presented by Hancock Whitney
6:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Formal Attire

Join us for an elegant black–tie gala on a night that will truly inspire. Following a three–course dinner, the Museum will present its highest honor to the deserving Americans who inspire greatness in all of us.

For more information, contact us at


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American Spirit Award Recipients


General Ann E. Dunwoody, US Army (Retired)

Ann Dunwoody exemplifies what it means to lead with the American spirit, making history as the first woman in the US Armed Forces to achieve the rank of four-star General. The fourth generation of her family to serve in the US Army, Dunwoody led a highly decorated military career for 38 years, becoming the first female battalion commander for the 82nd Airborne Division, the first female general at Fort Bragg and the first woman to command the Combined Arms Support Command. In 2005, Dunwoody became the Army’s top-ranking female officer when she received the promotion to Lieutenant General and became the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4 (logistics). She received her fourth star in 2008. She served as the commanding general of the US Army Materiel Command, one of the Army’s largest commands, until her retirement in 2012. The author of A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America's First Female Four-Star General, Dunwoody stands as a role model for all women entering the Armed Forces.


Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg will be honored for inspiring audiences worldwide through his work to preserve WWII history and advance Holocaust education as a storyteller and philanthropist. One of the most popular and successful American filmmakers in history, Spielberg has garnered international acclaim for his graphic and poignant depictions of World War II in his films like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List and as executive producer of the series Band of Brothers, The Pacific and Masters of the Air. The son of a WWII veteran, Spielberg has supported The National WWII Museum for over 25 years, participating in the 2000 Grand Opening of The National D-Day Museum. He founded the USC Shoah Foundation focused on collecting historical testimonies and writings from Holocaust survivors, as well as the Righteous Persons Foundation, which funds Jewish arts and culture, support for Holocaust survivors and history preservation, and Jewish community social services.

The Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen will be recognized for their bravery, accomplishments and patriotism in the face of discrimination. One of the most celebrated units in WWII history, the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen were part of an experimental US Army Air Forces pilot training program that enabled African Americans to fly combat aircraft for the first time in American military history. Numbering nearly 1,000 pilots and thousands more support personnel, these men completed more than 1,500 combat missions and nearly 200 bomber escort missions with remarkably low loss rates, earning three Distinguished Unit Citations among hundreds of individual awards. While fighting fascism abroad, they also battled racism at home and in the segregated military, fighting for their country with valor despite facing discrimination and serving as a beacon of patriotism for future generations.


Lieutenant Colonel George E. Hardy, US Air Force (Retired)

Lieutenant Colonel George E. Hardy, US Air Force (Retired) joined the US Army Air Forces in 1943 at age 17 and completed training as a single-engine pilot at Tuskegee Army Air Field in 1944. He deployed in early 1945 to Italy with the 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, flying 21 combat missions over Germany piloting P-51 Mustang aircraft. Hardy later served in the US Air Force in Korea and Vietnam before working in the US Department of Defense.



When six-year-old Billy Michal from Zimmerman, Louisiana, helped his one-room school win a statewide scrap metal collection contest during World War II, he understood that every citizen—no matter how small—could contribute to our victory in the war. His example, and the actions of millions of other students on the Home Front, reminds us that service to country and community helps create active, engaged citizens. Through this award, the Museum promotes these values to students nationwide and honors those who exemplify them.

2024 Billy Michal Student Leadership Award Recipients

Sophia Bailey | Harvest, Alabama | Grade 11

Briley Loncar | Anchorage, Alaska | Grade 12

Daphne Norman | San Tan Valley, Arizona | Grade 8

Brooklyn Sisk | Osark, Arkansas | Grade 12

Neil Chandran | Alamo, California | Grade 11

Amari Minh Luu | Colorado Springs, Colorado | Grade 12

Nyah Howard | Hartford, Connecticut | Grade 11

Catherine Williams | Wilmington, Delaware | Grade 12

Charlotte Williams | Washington, D.C. | Grade 9

Anjani Sharma | Melbourne, Florida | Grade 12

Sophia Findley | Kapolei, Hawaii | Grade 12

Courtney Cameron | Commerce, Georgia | Grade 10

Emmie Bevan | Meridian, Idaho | Grade 11

Winfield Redcloud Wounded Eye | Chicago, Illinois | Grade 11

Maria Goffinet | Granger, Indiana | Grade 12

Caleb Sinnwell | Nashua, Iowa | Grade 11

Neala Vowinckel | Mulvane, Kansas | Grade 12

Katelyn Huffaker | Glasgow, Kentucky | Grade 12

Sawyer Herring | Holden, Louisiana | Grade 11

Lily-Rebecca Mitchell | Lincoln, Maine | Grade 9

Anya Kleinman | Gaithersburg, Maryland | Grande 10

Max Zou | Weston, Massachusetts | Grade 12

Eliana Mandarano | Mears, Michigan | Grade 12

Patrick Koegel | Mendota Heights, Minnesota | Grade 12

James Miller | Brookhaven, Mississippi | Grade 11

Noah Williams | Palmyra, Missouri | Grade 10

Isabella Shaub | Billings, Montana | Grade 9

Lily Korth | Ponca, Nebraska | Grade 12

Emily Kreamer | Dayton, Neveda | Grade 12

Yousif Al Kinani | Manchester, New Hampshire | Grade 11

Casey Pekula | Williamstown, New Jersey | Grade 8

Brixen Michaels | Santa Fe, New Mexico | Grade 8

Jared Saiontz | Chappaqua, New York | Grade 10

Christopher Pedro | Morganton, North Carolina | Grade 11

Jacob Sletton | Williston, North Dakota | Grade 11

Ellie Baker | Dennison, Ohio | Grade 12

Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer | Tahlequah, Okalahoma | Grade 11

Roen Bost | Grants Pass, Oregon | Grade 11

Savannah Zeaman | Warminster, Pennsylvania | Grade 12

Peyton Applegate | Portsmouth, Rhode Island | Grade 8

Alaina Cutler | Columbia, South Carolina | Grade 8

Max Johnson | Mitchell, South Dakota | Grade 12

Olamide Olakunle | Antioch, Tennessee | Grade 10

Rabel McNutt | Dallas, Texas | Grade 10

Mackenzie Winslow | South Jordan, Utah | Grade 8

Kaitlyn McCullagh | Colchester, Vermont | Grade 12

Robert Chenoweth | Gainesville, Virginia | Grade 12

Tendo Lumala | Clyde HIll, Washington | Grade 12

Luke Fields | Charleston, West Virginia | Grade 10

Alexandria Benson | Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin | Grade 12

Isabelle Lobingier | Powell, Wyoming | Grade 11

Ticket and Sponsorship Information


$2,500 Individual Ticket

One ticket purchased for each of the following American Spirit Awards events:

  • The American Spirit Awards Billy Michal Student Leadership Forum (Friday, May 24, 2024)
  • The American Spirit Awards Gala (Friday, May 24, 2024)

$1,500 Patriots Circle Member Ticket*

One ticket purchased for each of the following American Spirit Awards events:

  • The American Spirit Awards Billy Michal Student Leadership Forum (Friday, May 24, 2024)
  • The American Spirit Awards Gala (Friday, May 24, 2024)

*Active Patriots Circle Membership required

Sold Out


Gold Sponsor—$100,000

  • Recipient and Patron Reception—20 invitations
  • Billy Michal Student Leadership Forum—2 tables (20 invitations)
  • American Spirit Awards Gala—2 tables (20 invitations)

Silver Sponsor—$50,000

  • Recipient and Patron Reception—10 invitations
  • Billy Michal Student Leadership Forum—1 table (10 invitations)
  • American Spirit Awards Gala—1 table (10 invitations)

Bronze Sponsor—$25,000

  • Recipient and Patron Reception—10 invitations
  • Billy Michal Student Leadership Forum—1 table (10 invitations)
  • American Spirit Awards Gala—1 table (10 invitations)


Interested in becoming a sponsor for this year’s event? Contact Director of Development Missie Lindsey at (504) 528-1944 ext. 321 or

Hotel Information

For your convenience, the Museum has reserved a room block at The Higgins Hotel & Conference Center for guests of the American Spirit Awards program. To book your room, simply follow these directions. A limited quantity of rooms is available at a discounted rate.

Book Your Room


“World War II united the patriotism, resilience, and humanity at the very heart of our nation in a resolute fight against tyranny. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans stands as an international tribute to the character and sacrifice that saved the world and to the core values that carry on the unmatched American spirit."

-John M. Hairston, President & CEO, Hancock Whitney

American Spirit Awards Presenting Sponsor


American Spirit Awards Recipient and Patron Reception Sponsor


American Spirit Awards
Billy Michal Student Leadership Forum Presenting Sponsor

Kevin G. Clifford Family

American Spirit Awards Entertainment Sponsor

Richard C. Adkerson Family Foundation


American Spirit Awards Gold

Paul and Madlyn Hilliard

American Spirit Awards Silver

Judi Duchossois in memory of Richard L. Duchossois
Adrea D. Heebe and Elizabeth Heebe-Russo
Matilda Stream Management
The Pam and Mark Rubin Family

American Spirit Awards Bronze

The Bylen Family
Davenport/McGee Foundation
Entergy Corporation
Mary and Peter Foss
The Lois and Lloyd Hawkins, Jr. Foundation
The John P. Laborde Family Foundation
ThirtyNorth Investments/Suzanne and Mike Mestayer
Ted and Jennifer Weggeland
Dr. and Mrs. Neil J. Maki
Ragan/Rosenberger-Miller Family

American Spirit Awards Supporter

Brandon and Daphne Berger
Jane and Ron Olson
Semper Fi & America's Fund