An Oct. 4 Federal Page article on the Service to America Medals omitted the name of the medal won by Subhashree Madhavan. She won the Science & Environment Medal. Also, the article should have said that the awards were organized by the Partnership for Public Service and Atlantic Media Co. (Published 10/5/2005)
The winners -- dressed in tuxedos and sequins -- choked back tears, stammered thank-yous, and dedicated their awards to their colleagues and to world peace, just as they do at the Oscars. But the stars of last Wednesday's glittering tribute, the Service to America Medals, were career bureaucrats who perform for the government well outside the limelight.
An Internal Revenue Service employee was honored for facilitating online filing of federal tax returns. An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawyer was tapped for fighting gender bias on Wall Street. A Foreign Service officer was commended for organizing elections in Iraq, where he had to convince the men that they could not also vote in place of their wives.
Among the political celebrities who handed out awards were National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). The most intimidating figure in the Andrew H. Mellon Auditorium, according to Wolf Blitzer, the evening's emcee, was Mark W. Everson, commissioner of the IRS.
The nine winners were chosen from more than 500 nominees for their "contributions to critical missions of the federal government."
Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten captured the spirit of the dinner best when he said: "Here we are at a Washington dinner hall, everybody dressed in formal attire, lots of politicians and political appointees, and not a single one of the politicians and political appointees is getting an award. It's going to the people who really deserve it."
-- Laura Blumenfeld
Centers for Disease Control
Homeland Security Medal
"I probably drive my family crazy. When I look at a map, I see all the possibilities of bad things that could happen."
TERENCE H. LUTES
Internal Revenue Service
Social Services Medal
"There are weeks when our Web site has been more popular than Britney Spears's Web site."
Department of State
International Affairs Medal
"I never thought I'd be able to speak Arabic. And I never thought I'd be using Arabic to help build democracy in Iraq."
and the Rembrandt Project Team
National Cancer Institute Center
"I feel really excited taking these tiny baby steps toward this ultimate goal of reducing suffering and death due to cancer."
Department of Defense
National Security Medal
"This award goes to the men and women -- military and civilian -- who we have sent out into harm's way to defend our freedoms."
National Aeronautics and
Federal Employee of the Year
"We take a moment to look up into the heavens and know that things can be better. And we can dream beyond anything we can imagine."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Call to Service
"I was a little bit more patriotic than the next kid, always worried about people who had their hats on during the national anthem, and very serious about the Pledge of Allegiance."
Equal Employment Opportunity
Justice and Law Enforcement Medal
"You really are in a unique position to do what's right, to not have to worry about anything else except litigating in the public interest. . . . I love my job."
U.S. Agency for International
Career Achievement Medal
"Most of the things we do -- get on a plane, go to another country where we don't know the language or the culture or where there are great security threats -- it's not something you learn in school, I don't care how many degrees you have."