Center for Security Policy’s “Sacred Honor Award”

Last week, the Center for Security Policy held a ceremony for the 2018 Keeper of the Flame Award, presented annually since 1990 to an individual who has devoted their public career to the promotion and protection of freedom and “Peace Through Strength.”

This year’s honoree was Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who has, often in the face of intense criticism, fearlessly sought to serve his country and our national security. In honoring someone each year, the award hopes to inspire patriots to continue serving and striving to better defend America.

There is another award presented as part of the evening – the Terry Elkes Sacred Honor Award, named after the vow made by the signers of the Declaration of Independence when they wrote, “We mutually pledge our lives, our fortune, and our sacred honor.”

The award recognizes leadership in the private sector and in philanthropy as a form of commitment to promoting freedom and national security. This year, I am honored to count myself among this group of patriots as one of the award’s recipients.

Throughout my life, I have strived to achieve those two ends.

My leadership in the energy sector is evident, but I am especially proud of my now ten-years-old Pickens Plan. The idea then in 2008 was that our dependence on foreign OPEC oil was not only a harm to our own economy and environment, but a national security threat. The transition to renewable energy would take time, and in the meantime, we should be using our own natural resources, including natural gas. That message is just as important today as we still struggle to make renewable energy dependable, and even look to foreign manufacturers, as we have with electric vehicles and Chinese battery manufacturers.

I have also strived to be generous with my money. I may be best known as a record-breaking benefactor to college athletics, but I’m proud to say a majority of my giving has been focused also on academics, youth development, and medicine and research. All these areas are concerned with giving the country a better future – our future generations, future technologies and capabilities.

I’m lucky to have been able to contribute and accomplish as much as I have. My 90 years have been marked by ups and downs, but I’m better for it. Dr. Andrew Whitney, an energy entrepreneur, said it best at the podium: “It’s a hallmark of a great man – you can change direction without getting caught up in your own pride, and then go ahead and make it happen again and again and again.”

Without being too prideful, I’m proud to say that’s how I’ve lived my life. From striking out on my own with my first business, Mesa Petroleum, to starting over at 68 and launching BP Capital, I have been able to stay in the game with nothing more than a little optimism and a plan.

I was, unfortunately, not feeling quite up to traveling to Washington, much less getting up under the stage lights. But thankfully, my wonderful daughter Liz accepted the award in my stead and gave a speech I am proud of.

Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy and a friend who introduced the award, was kind to sum it up: “consistently, year upon year, decade upon decade, both in his private sector leadership role and in his capacity as a great and very generous philanthropist, contributed to the well-being of this country in incalculable ways.”

I’m incredibly grateful to Frank and the Center for Security Policy for the honor. You can watch the full presentation of the Sacred Honor Award below.