The ceremony — held on Friday, March 25 in Arlington, Texas — was filled with local, state, and federal officials, local celebrities, and dignitaries. March 25 was designated as the federal Medal of Honor observance day by President George H.W. Bush.
Among the honored guests were 15 Medal of Honor recipients out of the 66 still living today, President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Charlotte Jones, Chairman of the museum’s board of directors, and CEO of the Medal of Honor Museum Christopher Cassidy. The ceremony host was news correspondent Jake Tapper.
Established in 1861, the Medal of Honor is the “highest and most prestigious military decoration” awarded by the president in the name of Congress to those who have “distinguished themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity, risking a loss of life above and beyond the call of duty.” Only 3,511 members of the American military branches have received the award.
Opening the ceremony was a highlight video featuring narrator Matthew McConaughey, followed by the entrance of the honored award recipients to the standing applause of the crowd.
Of those present, seven served in Afghanistan, seven in Vietnam, one in Korea, and one at Iwo Jima in World War II.
The honorees poured dirt onto the ground to mix with the native soil as a way of representing the unity of the nation in honoring the valor of the medal recipients.
In his remarks, Milley thanked the many who have poured their efforts into the establishment of the Medal of Honor Museum. “Because of their efforts, we will soon have the Medal of Honor Museum deep in the heart of Texas.”
He continued highlighting the work the museum will accomplish highlighting the soldiers’ “stories of selfless service” and helping visitors understand “the meaning and price of freedom.”
Milley also introduce Major General Pat Brady who received the Medal of Honor for his service rescuing over 500 wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Patrick spoke to the crowd, beginning with humor about how he wished his wife and mother-in-law were present to “hear what a fine fellow I am.”
He emphasized the faith of his fellow recipients. “We don’t think we did America a favor. We believe God did us a favor by allowing us to be born in this great country among people like you.
Former President Bush also addressed the gathering with his characteristic humor, but also lauded the accomplishments of the Medal of Honor recipients, saying that the presentation of the medal of honor was one of the highest privileges of serving as president.
“A Medal of Honor recipient understands the meaning of sacrifice in the most profound way. You are looking at honor. These values must be preserved, protected, and passed on to future generations,” Bush told the audience.
The families of those recipients who are no longer living were honored by the United States Marine Corps Silent Platoon drill.
The ceremony closed with the Naval Academy Glee Club singing America the Beautiful and the dignitaries and honorees setting “hand to shovel to break ground on this historic project.” A military flyover concluded the ceremony.
The museum, which was advocated by the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX-06), is expected to open in the fall or winter of 2024. It “will serve as the only national institution dedicated to the stories, impact, and legacy of the service members who went on to become Medal of Honor recipients.”
It will be a state-of-the-art facility located north of Globe Life Park on three to five acres beside the lake. Arlington was chosen as the home of the museum in October 2019.
Additionally, a Medal of Honor monument was approved unanimously by Congress and signed by President Biden late last year. The monument will be erected in the nation’s capital, although the site has yet to be determined.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.