HOUSTON, TX (April 21, 2005) - A former president,
a legendary comedian and an award-winning television journalist and
author were honored Thursday for their moral courage and fortitude by
the Holocaust Museum Houston during its annual Lyndon Baines Johnson
Moral Courage Award Dinner at the Hilton-Americas Houston Hotel, 1600
President Dwight Eisenhower and comedian Bob Hope received
posthumous awards as Americans who showed exemplary foresight and moral
fiber during the close of World War II as the horrors of the Holocaust
became known worldwide. Television newscaster Tom Brokaw received the
Museum's Legacy Award and served as keynote speaker for the dinner.
More than 1,500 people attended the event, which raised more than $2
million to support ongoing educational programs that promote awareness
of the dangers of prejudice, hatred and apathy against the backdrop of
the Holocaust and to enable the Museum to continue to offer free
general admission to the public.
"The Second World War defined the Americans who fought it, from the
combat soldier to the woman in the factory, from the war bond buyer to
the entertainer at the front lines. Dwight Eisenhower, as commander of
the Allied forces in Europe, and Bob Hope, the beloved entertainer of
the troops from World War II to the recent present, were two courageous
souls who epitomized the combined efforts of a nation," said Eileen
Weisman, chair of the Museum's Board of Directors, during her remarks.
Korean War veteran Rubin Samelson presented the Museum's LBJ Moral
Courage Award to Eisenhower's granddaughter, Mary Eisenhower, saying,
"As living witnesses to the tragic truth become more scarce, his rare
and invaluable contribution becomes even more crucial. His legacy must
be as a voice for those who have been silenced by time."
Perhaps no one is associated more with American military victory in
World War II than Eisenhower. Born in Texas in 1890 and stationed in
San Antonio during World War I, Eisenhower has been celebrated for his
tactical and strategic abilities in executing Allied landings in North
Africa and France on D-Day. Not as well known is Eisenhower's reaction
to the evidence of Nazi Germany's attempt to exterminate the Jews of
Europe. When liberating armies revealed the truth, Eisenhower insisted
that the evidence be witnessed and recorded, anticipating, in his
words, "a time when there would be those who would deny that such
actions had ever taken place."
The Patriot Award was presented posthumously to Hope by former U.S.
Army Sgt. David Trachtenberg and was accepted by his daughter, Linda
Hope. The entertainer was recognized for his unwavering commitment to
the morale of America's service men and women. Hope's first trip into
the combat area was in 1943. For the rest of the conflict, he embodied
the unequivocal support of the entire nation to those in uniform. In
October 1977, Resolution 75 was unanimously passed by both houses of
Congress making him an Honorary Veteran - the first individual so
honored in the history of the United States.
An emotional moment in the program came when a group of veterans
presented their own inspiring version of Hope's trademark song "Thanks
for the Memories," singing, "Thanks for the memory. Away from home too
long, you brought us jokes and song to give a boost to our morale and
keep our spirits strong. How grateful we are. And thanks for the
memory, on bases, ships and shore. It never seemed a chore, bringing us
reminders of what we were fighting for."
Brokaw is the author of The Greatest Generation, The Greatest
Generation Speaks and An Album of Memories and received the Legacy
Award from dinner chairs Jeri & Marc Shapiro for his contribution
to memorializing the unique character and accomplishments of the
generation of Americans that won World War II. Brokaw's insight,
ability and integrity have earned him numerous awards for his
journalistic achievements, including several Emmy, Overseas Press Club
and National Headliner awards.
Tributes also were paid to survivors of the Holocaust who were
present in the audience and to second- and third-generation survivors.
More than 300 Holocaust survivors are living in the Houston area.
The audience observed a moment of silence to honor the 407,000
Americans who died in battle, followed by the ring of a bell used by a
U.S. Navy Non-Commissioned Officers' Club in London during the war.
Each attendee received a similar bell engraved with the word "Remember."
Honorary chairs for this year's event included President George W.
Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush; the Honorable Rick Perry and Mrs. Anita
Perry; the Honorable William J. Clinton and the Honorable Hillary
Rodham Clinton; the Honorable Robert Dole and the Honorable Elizabeth
Dole; the Honorable James A. Baker III and Mrs. Susan Baker; the
Honorable Lloyd Bentsen Jr. and Mrs. B.A. Bentsen; the Honorable Bill
White and Mrs. Andrea White; and the Honorable Fred Zeidman and Mrs.
Holocaust Museum Houston created the Lyndon Baines
Johnson Moral Courage Award in 1994 in cooperation with the Johnson
family, and it remains the only award to which the family has lent his
In 1938, as a young congressman, Johnson stretched the limits of his
authority and risked his personal dreams to provide American sanctuary
for threatened European Jews. It is because of these acts of moral
courage that the Museum proudly named the award in his honor. The award
recognizes either a single righteous act or a lifetime of morally
courageous behavior. Previous honorees have included former Secretary
of State Colin Powell, U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, U.S. Sen. Robert Dole
and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
Holocaust Museum Houston promotes awareness and educates the public
of the dangers of prejudice, hatred and violence against the backdrop
of the Holocaust by fostering remembrance, understanding and education.
Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is
located in Houston's Museum District at 5401 Caroline Street, Houston,
TX 77004. Its Internet address is http://www.hmh.org.