A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, a prominent Baltimorean and executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency since March 2001, was honored yesterday by the National Flag Day Foundation at its fifth annual Patriotism Award luncheon at the 5th Regiment Armory.
Krongard, 66, who works at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., but still has a home here, received the Louis V. Koerber Patriotism Award for his service to the country in a time of terrorism at home and war abroad, foundation officials said.
A former chief executive officer of the Alex. Brown investment banking house, Marine veteran and one-time lacrosse star, Krongard minced no words in telling a gathering of 175 people that flag-waving patriotism is something he lives by.
"This is perhaps the one award I am absolutely comfortable with," Krongard said. Speaking of America's way of life and place in the world, he said, "Nothing compares to it."
He painted the war against terrorism as more than a simple philosophical or religious conflict. "It's a lot worse than that," Krongard said. "They [enemies of the United States] want to destroy our way of life."
Mayo A. Shattuck III, chief executive officer of Constellation Energy Group, made brief remarks on the work of Krongard, his mentor, in the spy agency and on points across the globe.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Krongard has traveled to Afghanistan, hiding his facial features behind a beard. After the war in Iraq broke out in March, he went to Baghdad to see firsthand how events were unfolding. While inside a palace that belonged to the deposed Saddam Hussein, Krongard had a snapshot taken of him sitting on a palace throne, Shattuck said.
Krongard started his career at the CIA as counselor to the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, in 1998, after leaving Alex. Brown.
In accepting the award, Krongard said the nation's historical moment might be compared to Athens in the fifth century B.C., when it faced a lethal challenge from Sparta. Krongard quoted the ancient Greek historian Thucydides in a passage that urged Athenian citizens to "fix your eyes on the greatness of Athens ... fall in love with her ... the secret of freedom is a brave heart."
Finally, Krongard said he hoped to see patriotism born anew in these times. "For so long the country was invigorated by noblesse oblige," he said, adding, "Support your military, law enforcement and intelligence communities."
He thanked his 92-year-old mother, Rita K. Krongard, for attending the luncheon: "It would have been a lot harder to be here without you."