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Steven Spielberg receives Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Unity Award

Steven Spielberg is a giant among men. Today, he's being honored with the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award.
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steven spielberg talks to Tom Hanks, in costume for Saving Private Ryan

The Friends of the National World War II Memorial (Friends) is thrilled to announce that it has presented its UNITY Award to award-winning director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Spielberg.

Named for a true gentleman, Air Force Brigadier General Charles E. McGee was an original Tuskegee Airman, this award is a significant recognition of those actively working for the betterment of their community and beyond, and for living up to the moral integrity exemplified by Gen. McGee and his fellow members of the “Greatest Generation.” Gen. McGee passed away in January 2022 at age 102.

To highlight this spirit of unity and Gen. McGee’s enduring values and noted accomplishments, Friends of the National World War II Memorial is proud to present the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award to Spielberg, for his inspirational storytelling and philanthropy as the best example of the spirit of unity and character of our Greatest Generation at work.

President Donald J. Trump participates in the promotion pinning ceremony for State of the Union Gallery guest retired Tuskegee Airman veteran Brigadier General Charles McGee of Bethesda, Md. Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

“Steven Spielberg is a master storyteller who has inspired millions through his craft and a tremendous body of work, highlighted by his lengthy resume of award-winning WWII films and miniseries’” said Friends chair Jane Droppa. “Saving Private Ryan, which turned 25 this year, changed the way we saw our aging WWII veterans and served as an important catalyst for raising the necessary funds to build the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Through his work and philanthropy, Mr. Spielberg has touched the hearts and minds of his fellow American citizens and citizens of the world. Through our commemorative events and educational programming, we aim to keep these stories alive just like Steven Spielberg has done and we are grateful for master storytellers like him.”

“Like Steven Spielberg, Dad had a God-given ability to meaningfully touch the lives of others,” said Charlene E. McGee Smith, Ph.D., daughter of Gen. McGee. “He led a life dedicated to bringing people together and striving to forge a more perfect union. In this new age, we recognize the need for reconciliation and realize it cannot be mandated.  Lasting unity occurs when we learn about and from one another. Dad’s amazing story and the inspiring ones that Spielberg brings to life on the silver screen touch hearts and minds and are powerful examples. Brigadier General McGee would be proud and delighted that Steven Spielberg is receiving the UNITY award.”  

Spielberg is one of the most influential and commercially successful film directors of all time. Seven of his films have been inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Spielberg has won three Academy Awards. He received nine nominations for Best Director and won twice – for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1999, in recognition of Saving Private Ryan. He was awarded a Kennedy Center honor in 2006, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, and the Time100 Impact Award in the U.S. in 2023.

Steven A. Speilberg, American filmmaker, director and producer, greets Marines with the Barracks before a Friday Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington D.C., May 5, 2023. The hosting official for the evening was Gen. David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Mr. Steven A. Spielberg, American Filmmaker, Director, and Producer, was the guest of honor. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Pranav Ramakrishna)

When we search for positive role models, we can look to the World War II Memorial, and we can look to the lives of Gen. McGee and Spielberg for inspiring examples of honor, integrity, and unity.

The Brigadier General Charles E. McGee UNITY Award presentation video will be released on Wednesday, December 20 at 10 a.m. ET and will be available on Friends’ website and social media channels (YouTubeVimeoFacebookTwitter, and Instagram).

About Friends of the National World War II Memorial (www.wwiimemorialfriends.org):

Friends of the National World War II Memorial (Friends), based in Washington, D.C., is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to teaching the lessons of yesterday to unite the generations of tomorrow. Founded in 2007 by the creators of the National World War II Memorial, Friends brings visitors together for national ceremonies and experiences at the Memorial and for educational programs centered around the themes of unity, shared values and ideals, and the spirit of community.