During the Washington Conference each year, a National Commander’s Luncheon is held, during which the National Commander’s Public Relations Award is presented to an individual or organization for distinguished public service in the field of communications, in a manner which exemplifies or furthers Legion policies or programs and contributes to the preservation of the American way of life. The award has been given in some form since 1961, although it only became an official American Legion award before the 1969 Washington Conference.

1961, Robert W. Sarnoff

The chairman of the board of NBC was honored for his long career of public service, and his work toward increasing public understanding of how America is shaped by world events and issues.
For more information on Sarnoff, click here (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9406E0DA113EF930A15751C0A...).

1962, Jess Gorkin

The editor of Parade was presented with the award for his groundbreaking coverage as the first Sunday-magazine editor allowed into the Soviet Union.
For more information on Gorkin and Parade, click here (http://www.parade.com/corporate/parade_history.html).

1963, Lyle C. Wilson

The vice president and general manager of United Press International was honored for upholding 40 years of American journalistic traditions. A Legionnaire, he served in the Army in 1918.
For more information on Wilson, click here (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,902082,00.html).

1964, David Lawrence

The editor and publisher of U.S. News & World Report was presented with the award for 54 years of continuous dedication to the highest standards of American journalism.
For more information on Lawrence, click here (http://www.usnews.com/news/national/articles/2008/05/16/david-lawrence-a...).

1965, Brig. Gen. David Sarnoff

The chairman of the board of RCA, and longtime Legionnaire, was honored for nearly 60 years of service to the radio industry, an immeasurable boon to the United States in both peace and war.
For more information on Sarnoff, click here (http://www.davidsarnoff.org/dsindex.html).

1966, Leonard H. Goldenson

The president of ABC was presented with the award for his achievements in the entertainment and public-information arenas.
For more information on Goldenson, click here (http://museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=goldensonle).

1967, American Newspaper Publishers Association

The group was honored for its continuing efforts, along with those of its member publications, to maintain freedom of the press, and freedom of information for all Americans. General Manager Stanford Smith accepted the award.
For more information about the current incarnation of the ANPA, click here (http://www.naa.org/AboutNAA.aspx).

1968, Jack Valenti

The president of the Motion Picture Association of America, and a former White House special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, was honored for both his service to the influential motion-picture industry and his public-affairs career. Valenti, a World War II pilot and Legionnaire, took the opportunity to defend Johnson against criticism of the Vietnam War.
For more information on Valenti, click here (http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jjvalenti.htm).

1969, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

The star of ABC’s “The F.B.I.,” and narrator of “An American Legend,” a documentary about the highlights of the Legion’s first 50 years, was presented with the award. A Legionnaire, Zimbalist was wounded in action in Europe during World War II.
For more information on Zimbalist, click here (http://efremzimbalist.tv-website.com/).

1970, "Red" Skelton

The comedian and World War II veteran was honored for his work in fostering understanding of the Pledge of Allegiance, especially the added “under God” portion. He had suddenly taken ill and could not receive his award in person. Humorist Herb Shriner accepted the award on Skelton’s behalf.
For more information on Skelton, click here (http://www.redskelton.com/BIOGRAPHY.htm).