His hard work has put Heritage’s William E. Simon fellow, Ryan T. Anderson, among the brightest young defenders of marriage. Last night, he received recognition for his work, accepting one of five Buckley Awards presented by the Young Conservatives Coalition.

Anderson, 32, thanked young Americans, his colleagues, and his mother and father in brief remarks at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C.  For YCC’s annual award named after conservative giant William F. Buckley Jr., young people nominate and choose leaders between 18 and 40 who have made a “significant contribution” to the conservative movement.

“It’s a sign that this next generation hasn’t given up on marriage,” Anderson said of his selection, adding:

 And as I’ve lectured on a couple dozen college campuses in the past year—places like Harvard, Yale and Princeton, Stanford, Columbia and Amherst, NYU and BYU, CUA and UVA— … I’ve come to the conclusion that the argument for marriage hasn’t been heard and rejected, it simply hasn’t been heard. And it’s our job to make it, not give up on youth.

Anderson also credited colleagues at both Heritage and the Witherspoon Institute, saying: “Any good that I have accomplished in the past year is because of them.”

The doctoral candidate at Notre Dame then spoke of family, represented last night by his mother and father (who celebrate their 49th anniversary next week) and one of four brothers:

None of my grandparents graduated from high school. My mom tells me that her parents, Sicilian immigrants, never even attended high school. My mom wasn’t fortunate enough to go to college, and my dad earned his degree at night school. Together, they successfully raised five sons: a college professor, an assistant U.S. attorney, a bank controller in Baltimore, and a Swiss banker in Geneva. I’m the under-achiever…

“It’s the story of so many American families … Before I knew the philosophical arguments or social science statistics, I experienced it firsthand. …The work that I’ve been fortunate to do, defending the first freedoms of life and religious liberty, and promoting marriage and a conservative vision of social justice, is simply a debt being repaid on the gifts that I’ve received: gifts of life and faith, a married mother and father, and the opportunity to do meaningful work.

His colleagues at Heritage congratulate Ryan for this recognition of that work, and also salute his fellow Buckley Award winners:  Yuval Levin, 35, author and editor of National Affairs;  Will Weatherford, 34, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives; Alexandra “Alex” Smith, 24, chairman of the College Republican National Committee; and Remy Munasifi,  33, comedian and video sensation.