By Tamas Mondovics
In front of friends and family, as well as dozens of high ranking members of the U.S. Armed forces, Florida Governor Rick Scott presented the Great Floridian award to Brenda Schwarzkopf on behalf of her late husband, United States General and Commander H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
The event, held last month at the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, prompted attendees to ponder over Schwarzkopf’s accomplishments and significant contributions as Commander in Chief of U.S. Forces during the Persian Gulf War.
While the war made Schwarzkopf a household name, the recent occasion largely drew attention to the late general’s effort to promote progress, as well as to the void the members of his family felt after his death last December due to complications from pneumonia.
“General Schwarzkopf was an American hero who made both our state and our country a much safer place and who brought his leadership from the battlefield in the Persian Gulf to communities of Florida as he remained active with local community efforts and charities until his passing.” Scott said.
“It is my distinct honor to recognize the late General Schwarzkopf with the Great Floridian Award. His leadership and determination to remain active after retirement is an inspiration to us all.”
Gen. Schwarzkopf was the most recent recipient of the award and one of only 67 individuals since 1981 who have been given this distinct honor, including former governors, civil rights activists, military heroes, Florida Supreme Court Justices and others who have made significant contributions to the progress and welfare of Florida.
Commenting on the award, General Lloyd J. Austin III, Commander, U.S. Central Command said, “This fitting and most-deserved award is being presented to one of our nation’s greatest military leaders and patriots.”
Austin emphasized the late general’s accomplishments and impact, not only beyond the country’s borders, but also within.
“General Schwarzkopf also understood the importance of building strong relationships here at home,” Austin said. “For their goodwill, he and Brenda were embraced and much loved by the local community here in Tampa and the surrounding areas.”
Of course, the ceremony would not be complete without a few heartfelt expressions by Brenda, who after receiving a beautiful bouquet of flowers, thanked everyone’s effort to be present, while revealing one of the many reasons why she believes that her husband commanded respect, along with the more than half-a-million troops during the Persian War.
“It is very kind of you to honor my husband today and since the Tampa area has been our home for 25 years, the longest we’ve lived anywhere, it makes this award extra special,” she said, but then added, “If Norman was here today, he would not accept this award without first thanking all those he directed during the war and all of you here today. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Bringing her thoughts to a more personal level, Brenda commented that life has not been easy without her husband.
“It’s been terrible. I miss him terribly and the whole family misses him greatly,” she said.
Also present during the ceremony was the general’s eldest daughter, Cindy Schwarzkopf, who settled with her family in Lithia to be close to her parents, and who shared her mom’s sentiments after the event, mentioning how much she also misses her dad’s company, the time the family used to spend together and the stories her dad would tell.
“He was a smart guy, and I miss his guidance and wisdom,” Cindy said. “When people think of him, it’s mostly in connection with Desert Storm and Desert Shield, but there is just so much more to him. He was my dad, who was also known for his charm, humor and his humility and who was always ready to support a cause or a charity.”
General Schwarzkopf died at the age of 78, and is considered a great American and a Great Floridian as well as a great husband and father who didn’t know how to stop giving back to his country and his community, but most importantly to his family.