Internet InfoMedia saluting the sacrifice of our remarkable heroes

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The most important thing to remember when flying a helicopter is to always be aware of your surroundings. It is a lesson I learned while flying over 2,500 combat missions in Vietnam, evacuating more than 5,000 wounded soldiers. And it is a lesson that has been made clear to me again when noticing who I am no longer surrounded by. 

Earlier this year, our nation lost two extraordinary men and fellow Vietnam War recipients of the Medal of Honor: Roger Donlon and Larry Taylor. Their passings leave just 63 living recipients of our nation’s highest award for valor in combat, many in the twilight of their lives. National Medal of Honor Day, observed annually on March 25, provides an opportunity to reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of these remarkable individuals. It is a day to honor their legacy and remember the principles for which they fought – principles that continue to inspire us today. 

As a proud recipient of the Medal of Honor, I carry with me not only the weight of this esteemed decoration but also a profound appreciation for its history and significance. More than just a symbol of valor in the face of adversity, the Medal of Honor embodies the highest ideals of courage, sacrifice and patriotism. It is a beacon of honor that transcends the boundaries of rank, race, creed and political affiliation – a reminder of the extraordinary bravery displayed by ordinary individuals in service to our nation. 

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Since its inception during the Civil War, fewer than 4,000 individuals out of 40 million service members have been awarded the medal for acts of gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. Their stories are as diverse as they are inspiring. From the legendary exploits of individuals like Alvin York and Audie Murphy to the lesser-known acts of heroism performed by countless unsung heroes, each recipient’s story is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the power of selfless service.  

US President Joe Biden awards the Medal of Honor to Captain Larry L. Taylor, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry

President Joe Biden awards the Medal of Honor to Captain Larry L. Taylor, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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And soon, those stories will have a home at the National Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington, Texas. Just one year away from its grand opening on National Medal of Honor Day 2025, it will serve as a place of remembrance and reflection, preserving these heroes’ legacies for future generations and inspiring visitors to uphold what defines us as a nation.  

The museum will be paired with a National Medal of Honor Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. – a project unanimously authorized by Congress to inspire every citizen to look for ways to serve and create a lasting impact in their own communities. 

You see, the Medal of Honor is not just a symbol of individual heroism but of the collective spirit of our nation. It represents the sacrifices made by countless men and women in defense of freedom who will go unrecognized. It honors the courage of those who have faced unimaginable danger with unwavering resolve. And it reminds us that sacrifice isn’t just a word; it’s a choice – a choice made in service to something greater than oneself. 

Audie Murphy in 'To Hell and Back'

American soldier and Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy (1925-1971) played himself in the autobiographical film ‘To Hell and Back’, 1955. (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

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In a time marked by uncertainty and division, the stories of Medal of Honor recipients offer a message of hope and resilience. They show us that the capacity for greatness resides within each of us and that our strength as a nation resides in the character of our people.  

As we celebrate National Medal of Honor Day and look to the future, let us draw strength from the rich history of this esteemed award and the example of its recipients. Let us honor the legacy of these heroes by standing together as one nation, indivisible, and upholding the values that make America truly special. 

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