The Essex National Heritage Commission awarded its 2013 Essex Heritage Hero Award to Joanne Holbrook Patton and the Patton family last night.
It was a fitting tribute to a family whose name is synonymous with the word “heritage.”
From their generations of military service to their involvement with numerous nonprofit and service organizations locally and across the globe, the Pattons were lauded for their generosity and commitment to others.
“They are true heroes to those who care about this region and beyond,” said Annie Harris, executive director of the Essex National Heritage Commission.
The more than 400 people who attended last night’s awards dinner, many of them in military uniform, were immediately on their feet, applauding as Joanne Patton took the stage to accept the award.
Joanne Patton, the widow of Maj. Gen. George Patton and daughter-in-law to the World War II general of the same name, called for her children and family to join her on stage.
The Essex National Heritage Commission and the Patton family share two qualities, she said: service and mission.
“I am very, very proud to accept this on behalf of all the Patton generations,” she said. “The word heritage comes up the strongest for me — it tells us there’s something that needs to be done, and we are on the spot to do it.
“... We commit to the heritage that will take us all to important results for the world. From all of the Pattons, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Members of the extended Patton family were at last night’s award dinner, as well as Patton family friends and civic, business, military and nonprofit leaders from across the region.
The microphone was passed around as attendees made toasts, sharing Patton family anecdotes and thanking them for their devotion to military service, the disabled, veterans and numerous other causes. Several used military jargon, applauding Joanne Patton’s role as “chief of staff” of a remarkable family.