Thank you, Amy Spowart, for so many reasons!
Amy is President and CEO of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and I’m fortunate to know such an accomplished leader who cares deeply about the industry and its members. She also cares about the National Aviation Hall of Fame 2020 and 2021 Inductees and Enshrinees whose face-to-face celebrations were cancelled due to COVID restrictions — including me.
Enshrinement draws the best in aviation. Included in the annual dinner and ceremony are aviation legends, American heroes, industry leaders, corporate sponsors, elected officials, and lifelong NAHF members. The event has hosted such notables as John Travolta, Harrison Ford, Miles O’Brien, and Dennis Quaid and welcomed many aviation legends like Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Jackie Cochran, Eileen Collins, and Dick Rutan.
The NAHF Enshrinement Ceremony — the Oscar Night of Aviation — is something all the class members of 2020 and 2021 would have loved to attend. Below Amy describes her “work-around” solution to recognize those of us who didn’t get to experience the industry’s “Oscar Night” (at least, not yet). I must say that her speech at the “40 Under 40” Luncheon during the NBAA-BACE Convention in October touched me profoundly. I’ve transcribed it below in tribute to Amy and her thoughtfulness in preparing this wonderful surprise.
Amy, Going Above and Beyond in a Moving Speech
First of all, I’d like to thank Ed [Bolen} for this amazing opportunity to recognize Joan in an exceptional setting. The Hall of Fame has a special connection to NBAA, just as Joan has a special connection of NBAA. Given that relationship, we thought it was appropriate for the transfer of her National Aviation Hall of Fame Medal of Honor to happen here at the world’s largest aviation event where the Hall of Fame tradition honors excellence.
My daughter Julia is my inspiration in many ways. She was a high school senior in 2020, and I still ache for her. There were no celebrations. There were no events. She did not get to graduate. Those rights of passage did not happen for my Julia, and they won’t. They’re gone. When I told Julia how sorry I was, my wise daughter said, “That’s okay, Mom. I’ve never graduated from high school before. I have no way of knowing how it’s supposed to be.” It inspired me to change my own expectations for 2020 and 2021, including our enshrinement events. Maybe one night one event could be refreshed. Why can’t we celebrate the class of 2020 in new ways?
Just like I did for Julia, I ache for Joan and the rest of the class of 2020 who are yet to get their right of passage. I promise they will have the bells and whistles. But until then, why not take every chance we can to recognize them? Because of the relationship with NBAA, we can celebrate Joan at this lunch today. The mission of the National Aviation Hall of Fame is to honor aviation heroes for the inspiration of future leaders. Recognizing Joan here in front of the “40 under 40” is doing just that.
Congratulations to NBAA’s own class of 2020 and 2021, and may Joan Sullivan Garrett serve as a goal for each of you. She was where you are, and you will strive to be where she is.
~ Amy Spowart
Kudos and Much Gratitude to Amy and the NAHF!