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45th Annual Spirit of America FestivalJuly 3, 2011
Point Mallard Park and the city of Decatur come together for the 45th year to celebrate our nation’s freedom and the sacrifices military personnel and their families make every day. Set for July 4, 2011, the annual Spirit of America Festival offers all-American family fun ranging from live entertainment and an assortment of children’s activities to grand pageantry, awards, and a spectacular fireworks display.
The festival began in 1967 during the height of the Vietnam War amid rising protest as a way to show community support to the fighting men and women of the Armed Services. In keeping with the patriotic theme of the event, an award was created to honor someone who best exemplifies the American spirit. The award’s first recipient was Audie Murphy, who tragically died only weeks before he was to receive this honor. The award was then designated as the “Audie Murphy Patriotism Award.” The “Barrett C. Shelton Freedom Award” was added in 1980 followed by the “Humanitarian Award” in 1994. In 2011, a new award, the “CSM John and Brenda Perry Award for Support for Military Families” will be introduced.
In 1984, the Spirit of America festival was honored to have President Ronald Reagan as a guest and speaker at the awards ceremony. Reagan reminded the huge crowd gathered that “This is a wonderful time to be alive. And we’re so lucky because as a people, we still have the opportunity to be patriots, and as a nation, we still stand for something.”