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‘The Army Family’ Receives AUSA’s Highest Honor

Photo by: 
U.S. Army/Pfc. Lynnwood Thomas
Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Association of the U.S. Army’s highest award for selfless service to the United States was symbolically presented Oct. 15 to “The Army Family.”

The Marshall Award, named for soldier-statesman Gen. George Catlett Marshall, traditionally goes to an individual. This is the second time since 1960 that it has been awarded to a group. The previous time was in 2004, when it was awarded to the American soldier.

“Our intent is to recognize and celebrate the great diversity and strength our families provide, and to document the fact that the Army’s strength depends on the solid, unshakeable, enduring foundation that Army families provide,” said retired Gen. Carter Ham, AUSA president and CEO. 

“A well-known saying is that noncommissioned officers are the backbone of the Army, and they truly are,” Ham said. “I’d argue the time is now to add that families are the heart of our Army.”

“The Time is Now” was the theme of AUSA Now, the association’s 2020 virtual annual meeting Oct. 13–16.

“The Army family does many things. It serves, supports and strengthens,” Ham said. “The Army family is the glue that holds together when household goods are missing, an unaccompanied overseas assignment is extended, a spouse finds it difficult to get a job because employers want someone more permanent or a child shows up at a new school and has to make new friends.”

Soldiers draw strength from many things, but “no source of strength has been more important than the Army family,” according to the citation accompanying the award. These families “come in all sizes, ages, races, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. They live in every community across our land, speak in scores of languages and span the spectrum of American society. … The diversity of Army families leads to one unwavering common element, the love of a soldier.”

Additionally, the citation says, “No group, no organization, no instrument of the government has contributed more to America’s Army than the Army family. Selfless service is an Army value. No one embodies that value more than the Army family.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville joined the celebration, saying to families, “Because of you, we are Army strong,” and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said he and many other soldiers would not be serving if not for the support of their families.