"A woman who stands in the first rank of America's defenders" was George Roche's tribute to the Ambassador as he conferred the award. Dr. Roche saluted her service to Reagan, who he said "epitomizes genuine leadership." The following is the award citation by George C. Roche, President, Hillsdale College and the Shavano Institute.
The most coveted recognition which Hillsdale College can extend is our Freedom Leadership Award, given to a select few who epitomize the leadership necessary to recapture the American dream.
Tonight I have the great honor to bestow that award on a woman who stands in the first rank of America’s defenders. She has caught the imagination of the entire nation in her spirited defense of American leadership in the free world. As the United States’ spokesman at the United Nations, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick has shown us all the meaning of true leadership.
A pessimist might say that the trends which this nation has undergone at a steadily accelerating rate for the last half-century must spell the end of the wonderful success story which has been America.
The nation and its institutions are assaulted on every side. Our economy, which has long been the most powerful and prosperous in the world, has now been over-regulated, over-taxed and over-governed to the point of grave damage.
Our political structure, which has long been hailed as the finest and most enduring example of limited, representative government, has now developed a gigantic, self-perpetuating bureaucracy, a horde of special-interest groups and a public philosophy which is neither limited nor representative.
In foreign affairs, the world’s most powerful free nation has lost a great deal of the respect which it once commanded. Worse still, we seem to have lost a large portion of our self-respect. In cultural matters our society has lost its central unity, its common bond of values and beliefs, rendering a self-confident, vital people insecure, ineffective, and divided.
Yet the pessimist predicting our downfall would be wrong. The real strength of America lies dormant and can be revived. Our economy, our political life, our leadership of the free world and our confidence in this nation and its institutions will rise again in the hands of genuine leadership.
Future historians will mark the turning point in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States. It was then that the American people served notice that change had to come, that America had a future as well as a past. The real secret of the renewed American Revolution which has now begun lies in one concept—leadership. Ronald Reagan epitomizes that leadership, but we must realize that he cannot do the job alone.
The new American Revolution will be successful if enough of us, each in our own walk of life, each with our own centers of influence, rise to the occasion and bear witness to America’s greatness, to the prosperity, dignity, and strength of a free people, united in the common values of our heritage and the Judeo-Christian beliefs on which that heritage is based.
Such leadership is the goal of Hillsdale College and the Shavano Institute. We believe in America and in the dignity and worth of the individual American. We believe in America’s future. We believe that proper leadership can build such a future.
Ambassador Kirkpatrick, please accept our thanks, our respect, and Hillsdale’s Freedom Leadership Award.