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News | July 9, 2020

Thank you for your service: DIA Director honored with Patriot Award

By Kyle Permann, DIA Public Affairs Defense Intelligence Agency

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. with the DAR Patriot Award during the 129th DAR Continental Congress, June 27.

Founded in 1890 to preserve the memory and spirit of the patriots who fought for independence during the Revolutionary War, DAR’s three objectives of historical preservation, education and patriotism have remained unchanging for the past 130 years and have long shaped the organization’s service-oriented focus.

While DAR has a long history of patriotic endeavors, one of its more recognizable activities is its support of the military. 

Every year, this support culminates in the National Defense Night, an evening dedicated to active duty service personnel and veterans.

The highest award of the evening, the DAR Patriot Award, honors those who have dedicated their lives to the defense of the United States.

In a historic first for DAR, the ceremony took place as a prerecorded video presentation, adhering to COVID-19 restrictions. In presenting Ashley the award, DAR president general Denise Doring VanBuren acknowledged his steadfast commitment and extraordinary service.

“DAR recognizes and celebrates with pride the individuals who serve this great country in our armed services and other agencies tasked with protecting our freedoms for which our ancestors so bravely fought,” said VanBuren.

Following his acceptance of the award, Ashley delivered the keynote address via a video message, sharing his thoughts on public service and patriotism to the DAR members streaming the ceremony online.

Ashley began by reflecting on his lifelong career in the U.S. Army – evoking the words of Robert Frost.

“The road less traveled by has allowed me to see the world, in peace and war,” said Ashley.

Ashley’s journey as a career military intelligence officer followed the legacy of many patriots before him.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people that helped make my 36 years of service possible. Who supported me, mentored and challenged me each day to be better. And through their actions, inspired me and countless others,” remarked Ashley.

He encouraged the audience to continue answering the noble call of public service and to think about the significance of that calling.

“Public service is an honor and a privilege, but it is also a choice. One that many Americans make each day. And when the journey is over, the road less traveled by will have truly made the difference for all of us that serve. And we will be better citizens for having made the journey,” reflected Ashley.

For Ashley, patriotism is not rooted in a particular profession or title but is ultimately fixed in a common love of country and a desire to preserve freedom for future generations.

 “Patriotism and public service is not confined to a uniform,” said Ashley. “While we all come from different backgrounds, we have all made the decision to serve our fellow Americans so they can pursue their hopes and dreams.”

He closed with a quote from President Ulysses S. Grant. “I appreciate the fact, and am proud of it, that the attentions I am receiving are intended more for our country than for me personally.”

The full National Defense Night ceremony is available to watch online.