The Marshall Foundation honored FedEx chairman, president and CEO Frederick W. Smith with the Marshall Foundation Award for his success in building a company that has changed business around the world and for the generous use of FedEx resources to provide humanitarian assistance to countries and regions in need.
The award was presented during a luncheon at American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 16.
When accepting the award, Smith said, “I have many times in the past been asked, Who are your role models? Who do you admire most? I have always said the same name: General George C. Marshall….He is unequivocally in my mind the man who saved Western civilization in World War II.”
He continued by talking about Marshall’s courage and the respect he earned as the architect of victory during that war.
“So I can’t think of anyone that’s greater in my mind in the pantheon of American heroes that I’d rather be associated with than General Marshall because he epitomized the qualities that really marked American greatness,” he said.
The Marshall Foundation Award recognized Smith’s integrity, commitment to mission and visionary leadership in the example of George C. Marshall, who, like Smith, transformed his world.
Paying tribute, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace said, “It’s more than a little presumptuous to compare everyone to George C. Marshall, who was one of the towering figures of the 20th century but there is a great deal that these two men have in common. First, vision, the ability to see around the corner….Fred had a vision.” He went on to describe Smith’s vision for an overnight delivery system that he articulated in a class paper while an undergraduate at Yale for which he received a grade of C because it was judged, to paraphrase, to be an interesting idea but not practical.
“Then there’s leadership. Marshall convinced Congress to fund what became known as the Marshall Plan….Fred Smith has shown foresight of his own, pushing for change in American business.”
“Finally, character and values. At the height of the Cold War, Marshall turned to the needs of the third world….Fred has made a remarkable commitment to humanitarian causes. Each year FedEx sets aside money and resources to help people in distress,” he said.
The award recognized the many efforts of FedEx to alleviate hunger and hopelessness that accompany natural disasters following the example of the Marshall Plan that assisted European countries in rebuilding their nations and economies after World War II.
“Just as George C. Marshall transformed his world, so has Fred Smith. This is the first time the Marshall Foundation has ever given this award to a business executive. And you could not have made a more fitting choice. He exemplifies Marshall’s standards of commitment and integrity and selflessness and he is also a true patriot,” he concluded.
Previous award winners include George H. W. Bush, Robert W. Gates, Lee H. Hamilton, Helmut Kohl, Colin Powell, David Rockefeller, and John W. Warner.