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Patriot Awards host Pete Hegseth hopes annual event will have generational impact: 'I want my kids to feel it'

FOX News Digital spoke with Pete Hegseth ahead of the 5th annual FOX Nation Patriot Awards about what makes the event so special to him.

Pete Hegseth is back for a fifth straight year to host the Patriot Awards at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. 

Though the event has left the Sunshine State in exchange for a new home this year, the awards are still focused on the goal of giving real American heroes the recognition they deserve.

For Hegseth, a former Army National Guard officer, the FOX Nation-helmed awards show is personal.

"It's my favorite assignment, the opportunity to host the Patriot Awards," Hegseth told FOX News Digital. "I'm always humbled and honored. It's unique, and it's unifying.

"I think cultures are defined by what they celebrate. What do we honor? What do we celebrate? And, too often, it's actors and professional athletes and influencers who have no grasp of history or how special and exceptional this country is… And so the Patriot Awards is meant to shine the spotlight on those who really are the best and brightest of our country."


Hegseth said he hopes the awards show can have an impact on the next generation, noting that his children will be in the audience Thursday night.

"I hope it has a generational impact. My kids are going to be here tonight. I want them to see it. I want them to feel it. I want the others in the audience to share it with their kids, to pass that message forward, to be proud, to be bold…"

The six award categories this year include "Most Valuable Patriot," "Back the Blue," "Salute to Service," "Young Patriot," "Courage" and the "T2T Stephen Siller Patriot Award."

Hegseth told FOX News Digital that while the awards and the recipients change each year, the message remains the same:

"These are difficult times. There's reason for pessimism," Hegseth said, addressing a recent FOX News poll that indicated 68% of Americans are dissatisfied with the current state of the country, "but in the most difficult times, the best thing you do is go back to basics: God, country, family, freedom. And that's what we talk about at the Patriot Awards and what we should be proud of and what this nation was founded on."


The "FOX & Friends Weekend" co-host said the Patriot Awards are meant to "shine a light" on those values each year.

"Every year changes and the recipients are different. But the message doesn't change," he continued. "And I think that's what makes it special. We're staying right down the middle with a fastball of love of country and where our freedoms come from. And that should be a unifying message today, even if so many people are starting to think otherwise."

When asked what is "patriotism" – a word that has, to some, changed in connotation - Hegseth shared his definition with FOX News Digital:

"To me, it doesn't mean you're perfect. Nothing on God's green earth in this fallen world is perfect. Government is the opposite of perfection. It is manipulated. It's misused. It's full of fallen, ambitious people. It's not about love of government," Hegseth explained. 

"It's about love of our founding ideals, which have been pursued toward that more perfect union from the very beginning. And again, I think it goes back to basics. I think it goes back to, for me as a Christian, love of God and an understanding that my freedoms come from God – not from government – and that a nation was created here, an experiment in self-governance and human freedom that every generation has to perpetuate," he continued.

"Being patriotic doesn't just mean waving the flag, it doesn't mean cheering for Team USA. It means understanding, internalizing, and living the principles upon which we were gifted this nation. And that requires teaching, educating, instructing and celebrating. And the Patriot Awards is there to celebrate all of this."


FOX Nation subscribers can stream the Patriot Awards tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

FOX Nation programs are viewable on-demand and from your mobile device app, but only for FOX Nation subscribers. Go to FOX Nation to start a free trial and watch the extensive library from your favorite FOX News personalities.

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