For Immediate Release
Nov. 18, 2010
Contact: Lisa Gough
(202) 393-0090, ext. 109

John Warner, Bob Kerrey Are Honored With Special Achievement Awards

Washington, D.C. – Old friendships were renewed, outstanding individuals were honored and money was raised to build the Education Center at The Wall at the first annual Build the Center Benefit Gala, which was hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) on Friday, Nov. 12, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.

The high-dollar fundraising benefit attracted around 200 veterans, family, friends and former congressional staffers, who gathered to remember the formative days when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built and lend their support to VVMF’s newest endeavor, the Education Center at The Wall.

The highlight of the evening was award presentations to former Sens. John Warner and Bob Kerrey. Warner, who served in the nation’s armed forces during both World War II

Honorees Senators John Warner and Bob Kerrey with OIF/OEF Veterans from Student Veterans of America

and the Korean War, was a key supporter of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial when it was still just an idea. He was instrumental in getting passage of the legislation that authorized its creation on the National Mall and in raising money to build it. He was presented with the Senator Charles McCurdy “Mac” Mathias Jr. Award, which recognizes exemplary and courageous service to the country, such as Mathias displayed throughout his life. As a senator, Mathias was pivotal in helping VVMF secure the site on the National Mall for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The award was presented to Sen. Warner by Mathias’ sons, Charles B.  and Robert F. Mathias. Sen. Mathias died last January at age 87.

Michael Hiesley, Charles and Robert Mathias, and Senator John Warner

The second award of the evening was the James V. Kimsey Award for Public Service, created to honor individuals who make a difference in the lives of the people around them through their dedication of time, talent and resources. The Kimsey Award was presented to former Sen. Bob Kerrey by Jim Kimsey himself.

A Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Kerrey served as governor of Nebraska and represented his state in the U.S. Senate. After the attacks of 9/11, he served as a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. He is currently the president of The New School in New York City, a progressive university designed to foster intellectual freedom.

“I cannot think of two better people to honor at our first annual gala benefit than John Warner and Bob Kerrey,” said VVMF President Jan Scruggs. “John Warner was a friend of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial before there even was a Memorial, and he’s been a strong supporter for three decades. Bob Kerrey represents the best of the Vietnam generation. He served his country bravely during wartime, then came home and entered public service. Both of these men have dedicated their lives to making our country a better place.”

The master of ceremonies for the evening was WTOP radio’s “Man About Town” Bob Madigan. The keynote speaker was Gen. Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.). Among the dignitaries offering remarks were Michael Heisley, owner of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies who is also a supporter of the Education Center. Other notable attendees included: Lt. Gen. Dan Christman, USA (Ret.); Barry Zorthian of Alcalde and Fay; Paul Critchlow of Bank of America; Judy Heisley Bishop from the Heisley Family Foundation; Andy Wahlquist, Sen. Warner’s former chief of staff; Randy Cone from Cone Group, UBS Institutional Consulting; and Peggy O’Dell from the National Park Service.

VVMF is planning its second annual Build the Center Benefit Gala for Fall 2011.

About the Education Center
The Education Center at The Wall is an underground facility being built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that will put faces to the more than 58,000 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Center will tell the stories of those who served in Vietnam and recognize the values common to all service members. A special exit exhibit will show images of service members who fought in all of America’s wars.

VVMF has raised approximately $25 million for the Education Center, including the lead gift from Time Warner. The project will cost an estimated $85 million.
Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War.  Authorized by Congress, its most recent initiative is building The Education Center at The Wall, an underground facility near the Memorial that is designed to help visitors discover the stories of those named on The Wall and celebrate the values embodied by all service members who served in all of America’s wars. Other Memorial Fund initiatives include educational programs for students and teachers, a traveling Wall replica that honors our nation’s veterans and a humanitarian and mine-action program in Vietnam.