Among the many blessings I’m counting this Thanksgiving: the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania chose me this year to receive their Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service. Both of my parents, both still with us in their eighties, were on hand to hear my speech at the award banquet. The FPRI, whose scholars and associates include the redoubtable Walter McDougall, truly one of the country’s most accomplished and original historians, and it is a great honor to be given an award by a distinguished group of Philadelphia’s leading citizens.
As one of many Philadelphia societies where citizens come together to debate and discuss the issues of the day, FPRI is very much in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin, and the lively and dynamic civic culture of the city and its environs shows how the free spirit of colonial Pennsylvania lives on. I was particularly moved that at the award ceremony FPRI gave me a copy of the first edition of Franklin’s collected works. Benjamin Franklin was one of America’s earliest public intellectuals and proto-bloggers; certainly, if he were around today he’d be publishing his almanacs, pamphlets and occasional observations on the web.
I had been at the ceremony when FPRI gave the first Franklin award to Henry Kissinger; it was more than gratifying to return as the honoree. I’m grateful to the board, the staff and the supporters of FPRI, and I’m grateful to the Providence behind us all whose superintending care brought us together for a memorable night.
Readers can see more about the award here.