For 46 years, the City of Decatur, Alabama has been proud to host the Spirit of America Festival and provide free, family entertainment to thousands of area residents in celebration of the 4th of July. The event annually places among the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society for the month of July. In addition to children’s activities, entertainment, food, games, music, the Miss Point Mallard Pageant and fireworks, one of the defining activities of the festival is the annual Spirit of America Awards Ceremony in which special honorees receive awards commending their outstanding service and sacrifice for their county and their fellow man.
In 2013, the Awards Ceremony and the Miss Point Mallard Pageant will combine in an exciting event that will bring back memories of USO shows that celebrate patriotism, talent, and the true beauty of the American spirit. The United States of America is a land of diverse traditions, stories, hopes and beliefs. Despite our differences, we share a common bond as citizens of this proud nation, knowing that we are at our best and strongest when we are united as one! The 2013 festival theme of Freedom Isn’t Free celebrates the unlimited possibilities of what can be accomplished when we work together to build a brighter future for this great land!
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.”
The festival’s mission is to “promote the spirit of American Patriotism by the staging of the annual Spirit of America Celebration in Decatur, Alabama.” This family-friendly event honors the contributions of those Americans, both past and present, who have dedicated their lives to the preservation of our freedoms both at home and abroad.
Through the leadership of a volunteer board of directors and with the generous support of private, governmental and corporate contributions, the Spirit of America Festival will maintain high quality standards for all activities associated with the free annual event.