1992 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"I have always seen my role as helping my adopted country to preserve its moral significance; to maintain its strength and decency; and to inspire other peoples who struggle for identity, progress, and dignity."
Born in 1923 in Fürth, Germany, a small city in Bavaria, Henry Kissinger was the son of a high school teacher. As the Nazi movement engulfed Germany in the 1930s, Kissinger's father was expelled from his teaching post. In 1938, the Kissinger family fled to America, where they settled in Manhattan. Kissinger was 15 and could speak no English. Following his high school graduation, he attended the tuition-free City College of New York's night school. He hoped to become an accountant. To help his family, he worked during the day in a shaving brush factory.
When the United States entered World War II. Kissinger enlisted in the Army and became an American citizen in 1943. He served in Germany with the Army of Occupation. His skill at restoring basic services to a devastated village attracted the attention of a superior officer, who recognized his abilities and encouraged him to broaden his horizons. When Kissinger returned home, he used the GI Bill to attend Harvard. He earned his undergraduate, master's, and Ph.D. there, all with highest honors. He remained at Harvard until 1969 as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government at the Center for International Affairs and as director of the Harvard International Seminar.
From 1973 to 1977, Kissinger served as Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He also served as Assistant to the President of National Security Affairs from 1969 to 1975. In 1983, he was appointed by President Reagan to head the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America. He was a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1984 to 1990. He is a Nobel Prize winner and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.
Upon leaving government in 1977, Kissinger devoted himself to writing, lecturing, and consulting. In 1982, he founded Kissinger Associates, the international consulting firm of which he is chairman. He has published several books and numerous articles on U. S. foreign policy, international affairs, and diplomatic history. He is also the author of a syndicated column that appears in major newspapers in the United States and in more than 40 countries.
Known for his boundless curiosity, Kissinger once said that one of his greatest pleasures is to "learn something I did not know before." A strong supporter of the Horatio Alger Association and its work to help with the educational goals of deserving youth, Kissinger says, "Education is the first step toward a positive future."