The Army bestowed the medal of The Order of Saint Martin of Tours upon The Young Men's Christian Association on Monday, March 4, for work performed during Word War I, in front of a crowd of Y leaders gathered in Washington D.C., for the National Y Advocacy Days
U.S. Army Chaplain, COL Jonathan Shaw, representing the Army Chief of Chaplains, presented the medal to Kevin Washington, CEO of the Y, who accepted it on behalf of the entire organization, as Sergeant Major Ralph Martinez looked on. Not pictured, but also in attendance were Paul McEntire, Y-USA COO and Matt Hyde, Y-USA National Board Chair.
"In November 1918, the YMCA conducted a fundraising campaign in conjunction with six other welfare organizations. The effort, known as the United War Campaign, raised $192 Million Dollars. That would be $3.5 Billion Dollars in today’s money," said Washington. "Those of us who are associated with the Y have every reason to be proud of our organization’s legacy of service and impact. I submit to you that our efforts during World War I rank among our proudest accomplishments."
Armed Services YMCA Board Chair, John Tilelli, Gen., USA (Ret), provided short comments on the the historical legacy of the Armed Services YMCA and provided insight on how the organization continues the efforts of those in "The Great War" today.
"As the current Chairman of the Board, I am again reminded that I stand on the shoulders of many great men and women that came before me. Reaching back as far as the Civil War, service to the military has been an integral part of the YMCA in America," said Tilelli. "To say that I am proud of the legacy and portfolio of work done by the Armed Services YMCA for our military would be an understatement. As a person who made a career by serving within the Army, I can think of no finer mission than to support the 1% of Americans that provide the freedom enjoyed by 100% of our citizens. They truly are patriots of the highest order."
Dr. John "Jay" Boyd provided an historic overview describing the work performed by more than 26,000 YMCA volunteers throughout Europe.