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2000 Sylvanus Thayer Award



A distinguished educator, public servant, and author, the Honorable Henry Alfred Kissinger has rendered a lifetime of outstanding service to the United States. Through his extraordinary contributions to the nation and to the preservation of peace throughout the world, he has exemplified the ideals of West Point, as expressed in its motto, DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.
As an educator, Dr. Kissinger’s contributions to the study of 20th century political science, foreign policy, and international relations are without equal. Graduating summa cum laude from Harvard in 1950, he went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in Government at that same institution. Then, in 1954, he joined the Harvard faculty, where he remained until 1969. During that time, he directed the Harvard International Studies Seminar, served with the Center for International Affairs, and directed the Defense Studies program. Upon concluding his tenure as Secretary of State in 1977, he returned to academe, joining the Georgetown University faculty as Professor of Diplomacy in the School of Foreign Service and counselor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As a public servant, Dr. Kissinger forged a reputation as the leading practitioner of the diplomatic art to emerge during the second half of the twentieth century. After President-elect Nixon appointed Dr. Kissinger his Assistant for National Security Affairs in 1968, he soon emerged as the President’s principal advisor and executive on foreign policy matters. His efforts to pursue the policy of “détente” with the Soviet Union led to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), and these eventually resulted in the SALT I Arms Agreement with the Soviet Union in 1972. He was the architect of the rapprochement policy between the United States and the People’s Republic of China in 1972. He played a crucial role in the implementation of President Nixon’s Vietnam policy, and after protracted negotiations, signed the peace agreement ending the United States’ armed involvement in the Vietnam War in 1973.
In September 1973, Dr. Kissinger was appointed Secretary of State, and in that office, he continued building his record of extraordinary achievements, including the “shuttle” diplomacy that effected the disengagement of opposing forces and established a truce among the belligerents in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. This led to disengagement agreements between Israel and Egypt and Syria in 1974. Dr. Kissinger continued as Secretary of State until President Ford left office.
After resuming his work as an educator, consultant, writer, and lecturer, Dr. Kissinger also continued to answer his nation’s call, as a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Board and as the leader of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America.
As an author, Dr. Kissinger has contributed to the literature of political science, diplomacy, and international relations for more than five decades. His first book, A World Restored, published in 1957, is still regarded as seminal in the field of diplomatic history. His groundbreaking work Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy won the Woodrow Wilson Prize in 1958 and established him as a leading authority on U.S. strategic policy. His memoirs include The White House Years and Years of Upheaval on the Nixon years, and Years of Renewal on the Ford years. Dr. Kissinger also authored Diplomacy, a sweeping diplomatic history.
Dr. Kissinger’s honors abound: the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 (the nation’s highest civilian award), and the Medal of Liberty in 1986.
Dr. Kissinger has left an indelible mark upon the diplomatic history of the United States and the world family of nations. His matchless record of achievement manifests an uncommon dedication to the citizens of this great country and clearly reflects the values expressed in the motto of West Point. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 2000 West Point Sylvanus Thayer Award to Dr. Henry A. Kissinger.
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