The 2022 Fox Nation Patriot Awards honored America’s real heroes – those who have gone above and beyond in the name of patriotism – Thursday night in Hollywood, Fla.
Six honorees were honored in a moving and emotional show that brimmed with pride and patriotism. Here is a look at this year’s award recipients:
MOST VALUABLE PATRIOT – ENES KANTER FREEDOM
NBA sensation and human rights advocate Enes Kanter Freedom might be well-known for his talent on the court, but his desire to fight for patriotism and foster peace globally is what prompted him to receive the award for the “Most Valuable Patriot.”
Freedom, who was born in Turkey, has undergone a tumultuous journey since he has spoken out against human rights abuses around the world.
He has been targeted by the Turkish government itself, and was dropped from the Houston Rockets this year, but this hasn’t stopped him from advocating for those who need it most.
“Whatever happens in life, always stand for the truth,” Feedom said. “Stand for justice and stand for whatever you believe in, even if it means sacrificing everything you have.”
Freedom has spoken out against human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, and has raised awareness surrounding the mistreatment of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hongkongers, and Taiwanese.
He became an American citizen last year, and changed his name to “Freedom” to honor his deeper life purpose.
“The reason I wanted to add freedom behind my jersey was to remind every child in America how blessed they are in the best place in the world,” Freedom said. “I believe America is going to have even better years going forward. That is giving me so much motivation to fight for what’s right. I represent freedom. That’s like the best thing that I could do.”
BACK THE BLUE – TONI SCHUCK
Highway Patrol Trooper Toni Schuck received the “Back the Blue” award for her heroic, selfless actions. She has served the state of Florida since 1995 as a member of the 89th Patrol School, but an incident in 2022 showcased her deep commitment to her job and her community.
Risking her life to save runners in the Armed Forces Family Skyway 10K, Trooper Toni Schuck crashed her patrol vehicle head-on into an oncoming drunken driver, driving at nearly 100 mph directly toward the group of runners. She is still undergoing physical therapy after the collision.
“Every day we put on this uniform and with the hopes that we’re going to come home,” Schuck said after receiving her award.
“From the time she broke through to the time that the crash happened was 2 minutes in,” Schuck added. “That’s what law enforcement gets. We get those split-second decisions. And then the audience that goes through your videos have a lifetime to criticize this.”
Earlier on “Fox & Friends,” Schuck described what she was thinking during the incident.
“My job was to protect those people, so I was going to do whatever it was going to take to get her to stop,” she recalled.
Trooper Schuck has served a variety of roles in which she has aggressively upheld the law and sought to protect her community. She was also awarded the West Pasco Bar Association Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2008.
She hopes her story can inspire other women to join law enforcement.
“If I can inspire one young woman to see … I’m hoping the next generation of law enforcement will include a lot more females,” she said.
HEROISM – SGT. JAMES MORRIS
Sgt. James Morris began his career with the Texas Department of Public Safety in 2002, and since then, his productivity, loyalty and devotion have resulted in the apprehension of thousands of migrants and the seizure of tens of thousands of pounds of narcotics.
“A lot of people don’t realize we work the border out here in the west Texas region, we work well with our border patrol agents and our other Fed agents out there in our state… It’s just something that I’ve been doing every day. And then for Fox News to come out and to fly with us, to walk with us a little bit,” Morris said before being met with applause.
Morris has also assisted in numerous life-saving missions during active shooter events, natural disasters and other critical incidents, earning several awards and letters of commendation from DPS and other agencies.
“We catch a lot of good people that come, and they do want to come in,” Morris said. “But there is a handful of folks that are murderers, sex offenders, druggies, a lot of bad folks.”
Before joining DPS, Morris served in the U.S. Marine Corps. The father of five has been a youth sports coach for more than 18 years, and in February 2022, Sgt. Morris was the recipient of the William P. Clements Award of Excellence.
After his acceptance speech, Sgt. Morris was promoted on stage to lieutenant.
SERVICE TO VETERANS – GARY SINISE
Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe recipient Gary Sinise is not only a star in Hollywood, but also a treasure to the military community – which is why he received the “Service to Veterans” award.
“Over these many years, I’ve met and been inspired by incredible men and women who bravely and selflessly serve in defense of freedom and who do the dangerous work to keep our towns and cities safe and secure,” Sinise said in his virtual acceptance message.
“And expressing my gratitude through our programs of the Gary Sinise Foundation, providing entertainment, visiting the hospitals in war zones, building homes for our wounded, providing healing retreats for those struggling with mental health issues, simply letting them know they are appreciated has given great purpose to my life,” he continued.
Sinise, who played key roles in both “Apollo 13” and “CSI: NY” and “Criminal Minds,” is often widely known for his role in the film “Forrest Gump” as Lt. Dan. However, his ties to the military community run much deeper than that.
His service to veterans and military families spans nearly four decades. Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s he began giving back to Vietnam veteran groups and also worked with disabled veterans.
But post-9/11, Sinise saw the need to get involved even more and play a key role in supporting America’s real heroes.
He established his foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation, which gives back to veterans, military families, Gold Star families, and other first responders in need.
The organization honors America’s defenders “by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.”
ULTIMATE PATRIOT – DON PATTON
Over the last 36 years, veteran Don Patton has dedicated his life to preserving the history of this nation and the stories of those who served during World War II.
“Isn’t it great to be an American?” Patton said to open his acceptance speech. “To talk about our World War II History Round Table, it’s really about three things: It’s about a time in history, it’s about saluting the veterans, and for the last 20 years, it’s about going to the places where the history remains. I think the seed of history is planted in me, and it’s a challenge that many are advocating about education.”
During his 30 years of service in the U.S. Army, Patton spent 13 of them in command positions with two battalion commands. After receiving his commission through the Corps Of Cadets at Texas A&M, a resident army war college, he organized The Dr. Harold C. Deutsch WWII History Round Table, which features over 300 programs that recognize, honor and tell the stories of thousands of veterans.
Since retiring, Patton has worked tirelessly to develop programs to preserve the factual history of WWII. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal five times during his military service, and was recently honored with the Minnesota Superior Civilian Service Award for his work with the round table.
“I’m encouraging all of you in the audience to look into your family, to look into the history of your family that contributed to World War II,” Patton said. “Don’t forget Korea. Don’t forget Vietnam, and these patriots that have fought recently.”
COURAGE – BENJAMIN HALL
On March 14, 2022, Russian troops opened fire on an area where a Fox News team was located near the capital of Ukraine. Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and local producer Oleksandra Kuvshvnova were killed.
Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall survived the incident but was badly injured.
For his courage in covering such a dangerous scene and his everyday courage through his recovery, Hall received the “Courage” Award.
“It’s not just the bravery of running on the battlefield to do his job. It was the courage of working through the unknown. And recovery is unknown. Without any other words that I can offer, though, that Benjamin Hall is courageous because every day since that day, he has battled the unknown and proving his own doubts wrong,” Fox News’ Joey Jones said while presenting the award.
Hall received his award virtually, delivering a message of gratitude for his team and those who have helped him recover since the incident.
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