WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- America250,
the nationwide commemoration of America's 250th anniversary in 2026
led by the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, and the NFL
officially announced today the inaugural class of the 2021
America250 Awards during a special halftime ceremony of the Bears
vs. Lions game on Thanksgiving Day. The awardees were recognized in
America250 and NFL Announce Inaugural America250 Award
- Community Champion: Shreyaa Venkat of Ashburn, Virginia
- 9/11 Hero: Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D. Braman of Orange County, California
- First Responder: Lilburn Police Sgt. Almedin Ajanovic of Dacula, Georgia
The multiyear awards program was created to recognize Americans
who exemplify the intangible qualities of the American spirit, and
spotlight those who exhibit heroism, unity, justice, tranquility,
valor, and equality, and advance and uphold the freedoms first
forged in the founding promise of America.
"As we gather with our families and loved ones on Thanksgiving,
it is an honor to stand alongside the NFL and express our gratitude
to these three extraordinary heroes who inspire the American spirit
in all of us," said Joseph Daniels,
president and CEO, America250. "Congratulations to Shreyaa Venkat,
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Braman
and Police Sgt. Almedin Ajanovic who
make me very proud to be an American."
"Our country was built on countless examples of extraordinary
citizenry, much like the America250 Award honorees recognized
today," said Daniel M. DiLella,
chairman, U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. "Commemorating the
250th anniversary of America's independence gives us the
opportunity to share the stories of our everyday America heroes,
deepen our connection to one another, and work towards a bright
"I've spent my life studying heroes and I'm excited to
acknowledge three of them today. It is also a tremendous honor
for me to be a part of this special moment as a lifelong NFL fan
and history educator for more than 20 years," U.S.
Semiquincentennial Commissioner Val
Crofts said. "I'm honored to be standing with those who have
made history, continue to make history today, and will make history
in the future. September 11 was an
event that impacted us all. It also inspired first responders and
members of our communities to help one another when we needed it
most. I'm grateful and humble to recognize these extraordinary
A distinguished panel of judges, including Daniels and Crofts,
selected the three winners from submissions from Americans
nationwide. Each of the winners received two roundtrip tickets,
accommodations to the Thanksgiving Day NFL game, and were presented
with a state-of-the-art trophy designed and created by Bennett
Awards, a women-owned, family-owned artisan business based in
Background on honorees:
Shreyaa Venkat was named Community Champion, which
recognizes an individual who embodies the everyday courage of our
country's extraordinary citizens who take heroic action to make
local communities better. As a 19-year-old Georgetown University student, she is the
co-founder and CEO of NEST4US, a nonprofit tackling global hunger,
quality education, and other societal issues. Shreyaa's volunteer
family has grown to 3,000+ people of all ages and backgrounds who
have contributed over $1.3 million in
value of volunteer hours impacting tens of thousands of people in
22 countries across six continents.
"It is truly an honor and privilege to be selected as the 2021
America250 Award Community Champion. As a young female entrepreneur
of color, I'm proud to foster a community built upon mutual
respect, inclusivity, empathy and kindness that empowers others to
take action and build a better, brighter future for our nation and
beyond," Venkat said.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D.
Braman was recognized as the 9/11 Hero, which is
given to someone who responded with heroism to the tragic events of
September 11, 2001. Sgt. Braman is a
retired U.S. Army Ranger who was working at the General Officer
Mess at the Pentagon on 9/11. After the plane struck the Pentagon,
Braman was thrown by the blast but quickly rushed towards the crash
site and began evacuating people. Over the next 60 hours, he
carried numerous bodies from the wreckage and saved multiple lives.
Braman was later awarded the Purple Heart and Soldier's Medal for
his heroic actions.
"I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award today from
America250 who inspires the principle of the American Spirit.
America and football are two of my favorite subjects, and I am
blessed to be here with everyone on Thanksgiving Day. Thank you
America250 for holding the torch to inspire us all to be better
Americans," Sgt. Braman said.
Lilburn Police Sgt.
Almedin Ajanovic received the
First Responder award, dedicated to a present-day hero
who answers the call in response to emergencies and tragic events.
As a City of Lilburn police
officer, Sgt. Ajanovic was off duty and headed home one night when
he heard a call about a train derailment and fire. When he arrived
at the scene, he ignored the potential of danger from fire,
hazardous chemicals, and electricity from the explosion and climbed
on the wrecked rail cars to lead two men to safety.
"It's truly an honor to receive this recognition and spend
Thanksgiving Day honoring and remembering those that are no longer
with us and those that serve to make this world a better place to
live and raise our families. Together we are a team and while
working together as a team, we are unstoppable," Sgt. Ajanovic
For more information on the awards program, please visit
Images of the honorees can be found here:
America250 is a multiyear effort to commemorate the
semiquincentennial, or 250th anniversary, of the United States. The purpose of the U.S.
Semiquincentennial Commission, created by Congress, and the
corresponding America250 Foundation, is to catalyze a more perfect
union by designing and leading the most comprehensive and inclusive
celebration in our country's history. America250 represents a
coalition of public and private partners all working to create
initiatives and programs that honor our first 250 years and inspire
Americans to imagine our next 250. The commemoration period began
in 2020, culminates on July 4, 2026,
and officially concludes in 2027. For more information, visit
www.america250.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter , Instagram
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