The Honorable Cyrus R. Vance Receives Thayer Award

Categories: Thayer Award, Events & Awards

As a distinguished public servant and diplomat, the Honorable Cyrus R. Vance has rendered a lifetime of outstanding service to the United States and its citizens. Through his extraordinary contributions to the nation and by his brilliant and tireless diplomatic representation of the United States abroad and the United Nations in international peace-keeping missions, he has exemplified the ideals of West Point, as expressed in its motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”

As a public servant, Cyrus Vance’s selfless devotion to our nation and to the world community spans five decades. He first served his country in the South Pacific during World War II where he fought as gunnery officer aboard the destroyer USS Hale. In the late 1950s, he joined the staff of the United States Senate as special and consulting counsel for two key subcommittees. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Cyrus Vance as General Counsel for the Department of Defense. A year later, the President appointed him Secretary of the Army. In 1964, President Johnson asked Mr. Vance to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense. In this capacity he became a close policy advisor to the President, serving as his Special Representative for crisis situations both at home and abroad, and becoming America’s number one troubleshooter. His fact-finding and mediation missions took him to Panama in 1964, to the Dominican Republic in 1965, to Vietnam in 1966, to Detroit and Cyprus in 1967, to Korea in 1968 and to the Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam in 1969.

Returning to the private sector in 1969, Cyrus Vance continued to serve his fellow citizens, actively assisting the State and City of New York as a member of four public service commissions and panels.

In 1977, Vance again answered his nation’s call, accepting President Carter’s appointment as Secretary of State. As Secretary, he tirelessly sought to secure the advances of strategic nuclear arms reduction, to promote adherence to the Helsinki Agreements on Human Rights, to jump-start the Arab-Israeli peace process and to preserve the momentum of detente. Throughout his many years in government, Cyrus Vance brought to public service integrity, unbounded dedication and the steadfast courage of his convictions.

In 1980, Cyrus Vance again returned to the private practice of law. His accomplishments in the public interest, however, have continued. He is a member of the Board of Directors for both the General Dynamics Corporation and the New York Times Company and has served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He is a Trustee for numerous
public service foundations and societies.

In 1991, the Secretary-General of the United Nations called upon Mr. Vance to again serve the cause of world peace. He responded, serving as the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General in the Yugoslavia crisis, as personal fact-finder for the Secretary-General in the civil disturbances in Nagorno-Karabakh, and as Personal Envoy to South Africa.

Cyrus Vance has served and advised the United States Senate, three United States Presidents and two Secretaries General of the United Nations. He has forged an unsurpassed reputation as a man of moral courage and uncommon dedication to the welfare of his fellow citizens, the nation, and the peace-loving peoples of the world community. His selfless devotion to principle under conditions of overwhelming adversity, and his enduring love of country is in keeping with the finest tradition of American public service and clearly reflect the values expressed in the motto of West Point. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1993 Sylvanus Thayer Award to the Honorable Cyrus R. Vance.

Thayer Award

Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”
The Sylvanus Thayer Award is funded by a generous endowment from E. Doug Kenna ’45 and his wife, Jean.

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