Alan Page thanks Legionnaires for being honored with the James V. Day "Good Guy" Award. Photo by James V. Carroll

Humbled, but worthy

Alan Page isn't sure if his work in the state of Minnesota warrants receiving The American Legion's James V. Day "Good Guy" Award. But he was willing to accept it on behalf of the thousands of children he's helped through the Page Education Foundation.

Page, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and a sitting justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, was presented with the award during The American Legion's 93rd Annual National Convention in Minneapolis Monday. Page said he was humbled.

"It is not every day that one is honored as I am being here this afternoon," Page said. "While I am not convinced that I deserve the recognition I am receiving, I accept it on behalf of those 4,500-plus Page scholars whose efforts are changing the future."

Page thanked the Legion for the award and then thanked both its members and current U.S. servicemembers. "I should say thank you to all the members of our armed services, both past and present, for all that you've done and continue to do to preserve our democracy," he said. "And, I would be remiss if I didn't pay a special tribute to those who have given their lives in service to our country. We owe those men and women a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay."

A standout with the Minnesota Vikings in the 1960s and '70s, Page attended law school while still playing professional football and earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1978. He went from private practice to the Minnesota attorney general's office before being elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992. He has been reelected three times.

In 1988, Page created the Page Education Foundation, which awards scholarships to post-secondary students who, in return, mentor school-age children of color. More than 4,500 students have been helped by the scholarship program. Page also helped establish the Kodak/Alan Page Challenge, a nationwide essay contest that encourages urban youth to recognize the value of education.

"We started the Page Education Foundation with a goal of encouraging, motivating and assisting young men and women of color in pursuing their education beyond high school," Page said. "As a judge, I have seen too many young people in our criminal justice system. Some of them, obviously, have no moral compass. Those we have to deal with. But for far too many of them, they have simply given up hope. Through the Page Education Foundation, we have been creating hope for young people."

Page was presented the award during the Legion's Past Department Commander's Club Luncheon. "His service to his community, the state of Minnesota and our nation is keeping with the ideals of The American Legion," said Legionnaire Dennis Boland, president of the PDCC. "We are indeed honored to have him with us today."

The James V. Day Good Guy Award is named after a World War II veteran and prominent Legionnaire, and is presented to individuals who show a commitment to their community, state and nation. Recent recipients include performer Dolly Parton, former MLB player Rick Monday, former NBA star and U.S. Naval Academy graduate David Robinson, and Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig.