The Audie Murphy Patriotism Award is named in honor of America’s most decorated soldier and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy. Murphy, who was to have been the guest speaker at the 1971 Spirit of America Festival, died in a plane crash just two months prior to his scheduled appearance at the event. The award was then designated as the “Audie Murphy Patriotism Award,” and is presented annually to an outstanding American patriot or an outstanding group of individuals who best exemplify the true “Spirit of America.”
The Barrett C. Shelton Sr., Freedom Award was established in 1980 in honor of local newspaper publisher Barrett C. Shelton, Sr., one of the founders of the Spirit of America Festival. The award is presented annually to honor an Alabamian for outstanding service to his community and state.
In 1994, the Humanitarian Award was added to the honors presented at the Spirit of America Festival. This award is presented to an individual, group or organization whose efforts have significantly contributed to the betterment of life, health and welfare of mankind.
In 2011, the Spirit of America Festival Board of Directors introduced a new award named in honor of its first recipients: The CSM John and Brenda Perry Award for Support for Military Families. It is well known that military families also serve. The award is to recognize the significant contributions, suffering and deprivation that military families endure, all in the support of their family members who serve in our nation’s Armed Forces. By creating and presenting this award, the Spirit of America recognizes the importance and great value of these contributions, and strives to promote the message that supporting our military families, as well as the Armed Forces, is the right thing to do. The award is to be presented to that person, group or organization that has significantly supported military families.