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2006 Distinguished Graduate Award

Mr. Herbert S. Lichtenberg '55

As an extraordinarily successful business man and philanthropist, particularly to the United States Military Academy, Herbert S. Lichtenberg has exemplified outstanding devotion to the principles expressed in the motto of the United States Military Academy: Duty, Honor, Country.

A 1955 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Herbert Lichtenberg served as a lieutenant for three years in the United States Air Force. In 1958, upon completion of his service obligation, Herb joined his father´s firm, S. Lichtenberg and Sons, in New York City. He quickly demonstrated a strong aptitude for sales and personnel management within the curtain and drapery segment of the home fashions industry. Further, he gained a strong reputation as a highly ethical, principled business man whose dealings reflected a strong moral code. In 1980, he became President of S. Lichtenberg and Sons. In 1988, within the home furnishing industry, Mr. Lichtenberg was awarded the highest honor which can be bestowed by the Home Fashion Products Association, the "Marvin Rosenberg Humanitarian Award." That same year, he was designated "Curtain and Drapery Citizen of Industry." Eleven years later, in 1999, he was named "Dean of the Industry" at the industry´s annual show.

Herbert Lichtenberg´s renowned philanthropy to West Point has been accomplished with several unique characteristics: he contributes quietly, often behind the scenes, without fanfare; he focuses on projects which the Academy would otherwise be unable to accomplish for itself; he has an ability to negotiate, encourage and motivate the involvement and giving of others with charitable resources; and the projects which he supports with his immense energy and financial resources clearly reflect his great love of West Point and particularly, the Corps of Cadets. Mr. Lichtenberg´s contributions to West Point have been and continue to be truly significant. They extend across a wide range of activities but can be categorized into three broad areas: support of religious programs and activities; support of Army athletic teams and programs; and support of West Point´s quality of life.

His support of religious programs and activities at West Point began in 1965 when he joined a group dedicated to erecting a West Point Jewish Cadet Chapel. Through his organizational skills, energetic fund-raising and unselfish generosity, the Jewish Chapel was completed and consecrated in 1984. This chapel established for the first time a distinctly visible Jewish presence at the Academy. This presence was required if only for the purpose of acknowledging the thousands of Jewish soldiers who have served and died in the United States Army since this country was founded. Mr. Lichtenberg, along with a number of others, also contributed funds and management expertise for religious support projects of great value to the Military Academy. These include construction of a "Founders Garden" located adjacent to the Jewish Chapel; renovation of Building 147 to serve as a Cadet Interfaith Religious Center; floor repairs and construction of a handicapped ramp for Most Holy Trinity Chapel; installation of a new sound system in the Cadet Chapel; purchase and installation of a pipe organ in the Old Cadet Chapel; design of an air conditioning system for Most Holy Trinity Chapel; and renovation of windows, floors and pews in the Old Cadet Chapel.

Since his return to New York City in 1958, Herbert Lichtenberg has closely followed Army Athletics. In the late 1990´s, he responded to a Superintendent´s wish to have an indoor tennis facility built as part of the Bicentennial Campaign. Mr. Lichtenberg and the Class of 1955 jointly funded the Lichtenberg Tennis Center. The tennis center served as the Class of 1955´s 50th reunion gift to the Academy. This building was significant in a number of respects. First, it was the first firm, significant commitment by a living graduate to build a facility during the Bicentennial Campaign, and it served to prompt a number of other major contributions during the Bicentennial Campaign; and second, this tennis center was of such superb functional and architectural design that it was designated by the United States Tennis Association to receive the USTA "Outstanding Tennis Facility Award" in 1999. At about this time, Mr. Lichtenberg learned of the need to construct a dedicated gymnastics facility. In turn, Mr. Lichtenberg and his good friend, Lou Gross, combined their energy and resources to fund and construct the Gross Sports Facility that was opened in 2001. Later, Mr. Lichtenberg learned of the pressing need for new housing to attract and retain quality athletic coaches of the major Army sports teams. In coordination with the Superintendent and the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, an idea was conceived to build six sets of new quarters for coaches. Again, Mr. Lichtenberg assumed the lead with funding. Further, he played a central role in encouraging others to become major donors to this athletic coaches´ housing project. The success of the prompt construction of the first three sets of new quarters led to the decision to expand the original project of six with an addition of three more sets of coaches´ quarters, bringing the total to nine. Lastly, Mr. Lichtenberg purchased and donated a custom designed, new motorcycle from Orange County [New York] Choppers for use by the spirit team at rallies and football games.

The third important aspect of his philanthropic support was to the West Point Community´s quality of life. In support of the Foreign Language Department, he helped to fund Cadet educational trips to the People´s Republic of China. Additionally, for the Office of the Dean, he has helped support cadet travel in support of academic programs to include such places as the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. He has also donated three large television sets to the 1st of the First Infantry Battalion mess hall to provide entertainment for this 24 hour, 7 day a week operation in support of the enlisted soldiers of the battalion. Further, he has been generous to the Most Holy Trinity Christmas Fund and the Post Sergeant Major´s Basket Program helping needy soldiers and their families. Last, Mr. Lichtenberg is credited with the idea of having the "old grad" march back associated with the Plebe hike from Lake Frederick to West Point that commenced in 2000. This program has allowed for hundreds of West Point graduates to bond with today´s cadets. Consequently, early in the cadet West Point four-year experience, cadets get a sense of the significance of their joining the "Long Gray Line."

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes great pride in presenting the 2006 Distinguished Graduate Award to Herbert S. Lichtenberg.