The Horatio Alger Awards

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
April 27, 2015

For several years, the National Society has welcomed The Horatio Alger Awards to Constitution Hall for their annual induction of new honorees. The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. was established in 1947 to encourage young people to achieve the American dream through perseverance and hard work.  The mission of the Horatio Alger Association is to provide scholarships for highly motivated but economically disadvantaged young people. Since its founding, the Horatio Alger Association has awarded over $110 million in scholarships to more than 20,000 young people.

In only a week, the Hall is transferred from an auditorium of over 3,000 seats to an elegant dinner venue.  A floor is built over the seats on the ground level and steps and a ramp are erected to go up to the floor.  Just to give you a little perspective, imagine the back of the platform as the lower Orchestra pit with the stage raised several feet above the platform.

Each year’s décor is different and this year the backdrop was a large navy curtain with tiny white lights – it looked like the sky on a clear, moonless night. The table linens were silver and black with centerpieces of white calla lilies and hydrangeas, each lit with a spotlight from high above. 

The boxes also feature small tables at which the 100+ scholarship recipients are seated.  The scholars not only benefit from the financial assistance to attend college, but are also mentored by the members.

About 1,000 people are seated in the Hall, including many of the distinguished members, guests and students.  Among the members are Tom Selleck and Lou Dobbs who serve as emcees. 

The Horatio Alger Association is kind enough to invite the President General to offer the invocation. Waiting in the President General’s Reception Room, I enjoyed meeting one of the newest members, Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest female billionaire. Elizabeth applied for her first patent at the age of 19 and dropped out of Stanford to start her company, Theranos, a health technology and medical laboratory services company. The CBS Morning Show had filmed her in other areas of our building earlier that day and she remarked on our beautiful headquarters. Elizabeth was not only very smart and attractive, she told me she has a Patriot and is eager to join the DAR!

The evening opened with our National Anthem, sung by Broadway performer Hugh Panaro.  Near the conclusion of the anthem, Challenger, a bald eagle, was released to soar above the audience.  The Canadian National Anthem was sung by Christiane Noll. Tom Selleck then recognized Navy Seal Team Six who received a standing ovation for the successful mission to eliminate Osama bin Laden.

Waiting backstage to offer the invocation, I introduced myself to Lou Dobbs, who remarked that DAR is a great organization. The twelve Honorees were presented in front of the dramatic backdrop of the Horatio Alger Association emblem. Tom Selleck introduced me and I was honored to offer the invocation.

My guest for the evening, Recording Secretary General Barbara Carpenter and I were seated at a table with the Horatio Alger Association staff.  Next to me was a woman from Texas whose grandmother had been a member of the DAR.  Just a few weeks later, she is now working on her application papers.

We enjoyed a delicious three course meal as Tom Selleck and Lou Dobbs introduced the members in attendance and the scholars. As the evening progressed, each of the new members was introduced.  All shared the message of finding their passion and of giving back to others.

The evening concluded with the audience singing God Bless America, followed by fireworks.  It was a remarkable, upbeat evening honoring those who give so generously of themselves. 

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