Newsmax Magazine columnist and television personality Ben Stein was honored by The American Legion today with its 2009 National Commander’s Public Relations Award for his outspoken support of America’s armed forces.
The honor was bestowed on the 64-year old lawyer, economist, author, actor and commentator by David K. Rehbein, the Legion’s National Commander, during a luncheon ceremony in Washington.
“Ben Stein’s intelligence and wisdom are well known,” said Commander Rehbein, “and he has demonstrated these qualities in a most important way through his steadfast support of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. His native wit is just a bonus -- but a great one.”
Stein says he’s humbled by the honor.
“I am about to get an award from The American Legion for my writing and talking about the finest men and women on the planet -- the people who fight for us, offer up their lives and limbs and youth for us, and keep us free and alive,” Stein tells Newsmax. “Now, I have never been in combat, only very very briefly in uniform in NROTC. I get this award just for making the very obvious point that we would all be nothing without the men and women who offer up everything on the altar of freedom.
“I am deeply touched but I do not deserve to shine their boots,” Stein adds.
In May 2008, Stein began penning his “DREEMZ” column for Newsmax readers, offering his take on the American scene -- politics, culture, Hollywood, or any other subject that captures his imagination. At the time, he joined such luminaries as Bill O’Reilly, Dick Morris, David Limbaugh, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Michael Reagan and Ronald Kessler, and many others who each month inform and entertain some Newsmax Magazine readers.
Stein, who has lauded Newsmax as revealing the “unafraid, uncomplicated, bare-knuckles truth about today’s dangerous world,” has exhibited the same virtues when unabashedly informing Americans about their heroes in uniform around the world.
His award citation from the veterans’ organization perhaps says it best by commending him for his “stalwart commitment to raising public awareness about the contributions of America’s men and women in military uniform.
“Your book ‘The Real Stars: In Today’s America, Who Are the True Heroes?’ is an eloquent reminder that it isn’t actors or celebrities that deserve stardom, but the soldiers who patrol the streets of Iraq to protect others,” the citation reads.
“You have been an articulate and staunch advocate for America’s military members and veterans in numerous media interviews and public appearances. Moreover, your support for God, Old Glory, family and the American way of life is a hallmark of your outstanding patriotism and professionalism.”
Commander Rehbein noted that Stein donated the proceeds from his 2007 book to the families of fallen warriors. “His generosity and patriotism cannot be questioned,” Rehbein said.
Previous recipients of The American Legion National Commander’s Public Service Award have included Meet the Press host Tim Russert; entertainer Wayne Newton; NBC Anchorman Tom Brokaw; ABC News Correspondent Jack Smith; famed editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin (who created the World War II GI characters Willie and Joe); former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett; movie, radio and TV icon Red Skelton; White House aide and Hollywood executive Jack Valenti; and television and radio commentator Lou Dobbs.
Over a thousand representatives of the 2.6-million-member American Legion are gathered in the Nation’s Capital this week for their annual Washington Conference. The three-day event will include visits to key legislators on Capitol Hill to communicate the veterans’ service organization’s agenda items for the 111th Congress.
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