Surrounded by a “powerful guest list,” Gen. James Conway, the commandant of the Marine Corps, accepted the Keeper of the Flame award at Union Station Sept. 15.
The Keeper of the Flame has been awarded annually for 21 years, and recognizes people who devote their lives to America’s defense and have a commitment to national security.
Conway received the award for his leadership approach and his ability as a combat commander, said Frank Gaffney, the president and chief executive of the Center for Security Policy, the organization presenting the award.
“I’ve admired Gen. Conway for a long time,” he said. “As he approaches the end of his tenure as commandant, this was an opportunity for us to recognize him and say thank you.”
Past award recipients include Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney and retired Gen. Peter Pace.
“Jim is a man of great courage,” said Pace, who introduced Conway. “I have come to admire his physical courage in combat, but I’ve also come to admire his intellectual courage – the courage to say ‘I see it differently, and here is why.’”
Conway accepted the award on behalf of his Marines, many who are “anxious” to go to Afghanistan.
“Our great nation has not been attacked in the same manner (as 9/11) in the last nine years,” he said. “While there are a number of reasons for that, if you talk to the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, they will tell you that they are each a part of why this country hasn’t been attacked. They believe that some of the same (people) who would attempt to attack our country are instead coming to fight them in Iraq and increasingly in Afghanistan, and they are okay with that. That is precisely what they want to see.”
Gaffney, who nominated Conway for the award, said this choice represented the importance of the Marine Corps to America’s security.
“The Marine Corps is the most admired institution in the country,” Gaffney added. “We’re going to need it in the future, as much as we did in the past.”
Founded in 1988, the Center for Security Policy follows the philosophy of “peace through strength” to preserve the country’s role in maintaining global stability. For more information on the Keeper of the Flame award, visit http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/.