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Denzel Washington Named Honorary US Army Sergeant Major: ‘We Are Free Because of the Sacrifices You’ve Made’

Screen Shot from U.S. Army YouTube

Denzel Washington Named Honorary US Army Sergeant Major: ‘We Are Free Because of the Sacrifices You’ve Made’

By Movieguide® Staff

Esteemed in Hollywood for his career in acting and directing, Denzel Washington recently became the “Honorary Sergeant Major of the Army” for 2021.

“We all are free because of the sacrifices that you’ve made,” THE EQUALIZER actor said during the ceremony on Sept. 24. “We all have the right to agree or disagree or complain or whine or whatever else Americans do these days because of the sacrifices that each and every one of you men and women made. This really belongs to you.” 

According to Take & Purpose, the Army made the formal announcement at the Annual Association of the U.S. Army conference on Nov. 1, and Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston presented the award to Washington.  

“When I looked at him, and when I looked at the role of the sergeant major of the Army, we want those that are humble because we serve the soldiers of the United States of America, and I represent all the soldiers in the Army,” Grinston said. “And when I talk to him, that’s what he represents … He just wants to do better for the Army.” 

Take & Purpose wrote

Washington was chosen because of his work with the Fisher House Foundation, a program focused on building homes at military medical centers around the world for military and veteran families to stay in while their loved one is receiving medical care.

Ken Fisher, the chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation, first met Washington about 20 years ago while the actor was visiting Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Washington “wrote a check on the spot” to the foundation to help build a home, Fisher said. He’s since become a board member of the foundation. “Nobody deserves this more than you do,” Fisher told Washington during the ceremony. “You have been an amazing friend to military families throughout your work with us.” 

Washington’s upcoming movie, A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN highlights the real-life story of 1st Sgt. Charles Monroe King, a U.S. soldier who wrote a 200-page journal for his son, Jordan, while stationed in Iraq. 

The movie is based on a memoir of the same name written by King’s fiancée, Dana Canedy. 

King was killed after a roadside bomb exploded in 2006. Canedy attended the award ceremony for Washington, and noted how she hopes the movie honor’s her late fiancé. 

“They’re doing God’s work, the Fisher family, the Fisher house, the Fisher Foundation,” Canedy said. “And our entire nation owes them a debt of gratitude because they really uplift and they support our military.” 

“That could be me,” Grinston added. “I wrote 13 typed pages to my daughters before I deployed. It’s what we do as soldiers. You don’t know if you’re going to come back … You doing that movie is not a movie about a letter to Jordan, it’s about a letter to all our families. Every one of us — every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine — that could have been us.” 

Washington accepted the award as an honor, and said that he would work to honor the men and women who serve the United States of America. 

“Mr. Washington, by accepting this honor, you get to be part of the club that is one percent of the one percent, and by doing that movie, not only do you represent Jordan, you represent the entire family of the Army,” Grinston said in September. “And when I see that, that’s what it means to me. And I couldn’t be more proud to say you are now going to be a part of our team.”