The first woman in U.S. history to become a four-star general was honored in the Hudson Valley.

On Thursday, retired Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody received the Association of Graduates Thayer Award at West Point. The award was established in honor of the "Father of the Military Academy" Col. Sylvanus Thayer and is presented to an outstanding member of society whose accomplishments exemplify the military's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country."

Gen. Dunwoody became the first woman in U.S. history to become a four-star general in November 2008. She dedicated over 37 years of her life to military service in the Army.

Despite three-generations of Army service members in her family, Dunwoody had no plans to have an Army career. She was commissioned through a college program that recruited women to join after the Vietnam War. Dunwoody gave the Army a 2-year commitment in exchange for an education when she attended the State University of New York College at Cortland. But she stayed in the military because she loved being a soldier and leading them, officials say.

Dunwoody spoke to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy on Thursday and shared life lessons that she believes may help them in the future.

"I hope they take away that this Army and the one they are about to enter when they finish their education at West Point is a noble and very important profession," Dunwoody said. "I hope each one of them are as passionate about it as I was. I believe that if they find their passion in the military, then there will be no better organization. It is valued-based and has all of the tools to make a difference and an impact on the world in any capacity."

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