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DeWitt Wallace

Recovering in a French hospital from war injuries, Wallace had plenty of time on his hands, conceiving a host of ideas that evolved into the world-famous Reader's Digest. More than 50 years later, The American Legion awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal.

Chock full of a wide variety of articles, including stories from The American Legion Magazine, Wallace's publication became a household name, motivating people "to heighten their art of living and to improve themselves mentally, materially and spiritually," National Commander John H. Geiger said.

In addition, Wallace distributed $20 million to numerous philanthropic endeavors, including youth programs of The American Legion.

Receiving the medal, Wallace replied, "I would rather have a high honor from The American Legion than from any other organization in the country, for I have long shared the opinion that most people have - that you Legionnaires and your wonderful wives constitute without any question the most patriotic organization in this country."

From their basement apartment, Wallace and his wife, Lila, launched Reader's Digest in 1922. Starting with little money and reprinted articles from other magazines, the Wallaces eventually built a publishing empire. By 1972, readership had grown to more than 100 million people in 170 countries. Until the late 1990s, Reader's Digest was the world's best-selling English magazine.

Wallace retired in 1973. He died in 1981 in New York, at 91.

For more on Wallace, click here (http://www.answers.com/topic/wallace-dewitt).

 

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