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1996 Distinguished Graduate Award


Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr.

As a soldier, statesman and respected advisor to six Presidents of the United States, Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. has rendered a lifetime of extraordinary service to his country and to the international community of freedom loving nations. In successive positions of increasing military and civil responsibility in the national interest, General Haig has exemplified outstanding devotion to the principles expressed in the motto of the United States Military Academy -- Duty, Honor, Country.

General Haig's remarkable career of distinguished service began upon his graduation from West Point in 1947. As a soldier, his military experience and accomplishments included both command and staff responsibility in the field, training combat units and soldiers to deter war, and when war came, commanding these same soldiers with conspicuous gallantry and distinction. In Korea, he was decorated twice with the Silver Star. In Vietnam, he led his infantry battalion in close combat and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism at the Battle of Ap Gu.

General Haig's military career has been replete with achievement. As he advanced in rank, his assignments increasingly involved service at the highest decision making levels of government. In 1969, he was assigned as the Senior Military Advisor to Dr. Kissinger, then Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. As Senior Military Advisor, General Haig played a leadership role in the military political process which led to the cease-fire agreements in Vietnam. In 1972, he led the advance team that coordinated President Nixon's historic trip to the People's Republic of China.

In 1973, the President named General Haig Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, a post he held until summoned to rebuild the White House Staff. He then retired from the Army to accept appointment as President Nixon's Chief of Staff. In that position, he served both Presidents Nixon and Ford during the grave constitutional crisis that precipitated the President's resignation and the unprecedented transition of the nation's highest office which followed.

In 1974, President Ford recalled General Haig to active duty, naming him Commander in Chief, United States European Command. Soon thereafter, General Haig was appointed Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. During his five years as military leader of the Atlantic Alliance, NATO military capabilities materially improved and member nation contributions to NATO increased dramatically, notwithstanding the international climate of economic stress, growing terrorism and the relentless threat of the Soviet led Warsaw Pact. General Haig's dynamic leadership, political acumen and skillful statesmanship were central to NATO's unmitigated success as a peaceful alliance of strength largely responsible for the ultimate victory of the West in the Cold War.

In 1979, General Haig completed his tour as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and after 32 years in uniform, retired from active military service. Retirement from the Army did not signal retirement from public service. Upon his election in 1980, President Reagan nominated General Haig to be the nation's 59th Secretary of State. Responding again to his nation's call, General Haig assumed office in January 1981 and during the ensuing eighteen months, applied his years of experience and leadership at the highest levels of government, guiding the formulation and execution of the nation's foreign policy, during the turbulent years leading to the collapse of World Communism.

The full measure of General Haig's contribution to the nation is apparent in his continuing service to his fellow citizens. He has served on three Presidential Commissions. He has unstintingly participated in the education of our nation's future leaders, lecturing extensively at our nation's colleges and universities. He is a published author of foreign affairs and diplomatic history of the Cold War era. He is a board member and advisor to both non-profit and commercial corporate enterprises. He founded and chairs his own corporation, Worldwide Associates, Inc.

General Haig is the holder of more than twenty United States military and foreign government decorations and has received honorary degrees and awards from twelve colleges and universities.

A distinguished soldier and renowned statesman, General Haig has left an indelible mark upon our nation's history. His life of selfless dedication exemplifies the principles and ideals reflected in the motto of West Point. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 1996 Distinguished Graduate Award to Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Class of 1947.