Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”I remember in 1983 seeing General Doolittle, of Doolittle's Raid fame, at the dinner in his honor in the Cadet Mess Hall, and marveling at what a tiny person that giant of a man was. I also remember 1986, when I sat across a table from Doctor Teller, and, being one of only a few people in the office with him, got to speak to him. I asked him how he answers the criticism sometimes leveled at him that he is partly responsible for the scourge of nuclear weapons and the deaths of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I also remember his answer.
Thayer Award Criteria
The Award is given to a citizen of the United States, other than a West Point graduate, whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature in the civilian community draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” The individual selected for the Thayer Award must agree to accept the Award at West Point.
General Doolittle and Doctor Teller were at West Point to receive their Thayer Awards, and today the Association of Graduates has announced the 2017 Thayer Award recipient. I agree wholeheartedly that this person is one whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature are in keeping with the the motto Duty, Honor, Country. Receiving the award 23 years after his father did, this year's Thayer Award will go to President George W. Bush.
Recipients of the Thayer Award are listed here; I'm not sure exactly what year the requirement was added that recipients not be West Point graduates, but it was clearly after 1973.