National Medal of Honor Day
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” —John 15:12-14
“Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.” —Thomas Jefferson (1775)
In 1787, George Washington and the Constitutional Convention delegates composed this preamble: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
For all Americans, and especially those of us who have sworn “to support and defend” our Constitution, securing the “blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity” is more than just an aspiration. It is our sacred duty.
March 25 is National Medal of Honor Day — the anniversary observance of the first Medal of Honor recipients — an opportunity to recognize all of the recipients of our nation’s highest military award and recall their extraordinary service and sacrifice on behalf of their brothers in arms and in defense of American Liberty.
On this day in 1863, Private Jacob Parrott was the first of six men to receive the Medal of Honor for their actions as members of Andrews’ Raiders, whose valorous acts on April 12, 1862, were immortalized in print and film as “The Great Locomotive Chase.” Those actions occurred just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Birthplace of the Medal of Honor and home of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. The Heritage Center is focused on six character-trait pillars of the Medal of Honor — traits that are common to all recipients: Courage, Sacrifice, Patriotism, Citizenship, Integrity, and Commitment.
Since the first medals were awarded, American presidents and military commanders have, in the name of the United States Congress, presented 3,527 Medals of Honor to 3,508 individuals, including 19 double recipients.
In a nation of some 330 million people, only 71 recipients are living today.
Notably, Chattanooga was also the field of service for the only woman who holds a Medal of Honor, Dr. Mary Walker. Other well-known recipients from our area include World War I’s Alvin York, whose life story was immortalized in the film “Sergeant York.” More recently, the heroic actions of my old neighbor, World War II veteran Desmond Doss, were featured in the movie “Hacksaw Ridge.”
For additional inspiration, read “Our Flag — What Do You See?” by Col. Thorsness.
In 1992, during Ronald Reagan’s final public address, he offered these words about honoring our legacy of Liberty: “My fondest hope for each one of you is that you will love your country not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here. May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism.”
I invite you to help us extend “the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity” by ensuring that we as Americans “never forget our heroic origins” and by promoting and extending the legacy of all Medal of Honor recipients to the next generation. Please consider making a designated gift online or make a check payable to Patriot Foundation Trust (noting NMoHHC on the memo line), and mail to Patriot Foundation Trust, PO Box 407, Chattanooga, TN 37401-0407.
I’ll leave you with these words, which recipient Kyle Carpenter recently noted are the foundation for his service and sacrifice: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” —John 15:12-14
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776
Join us in prayer for our Patriots in uniform and their families — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way, and for our nation’s First Responders. We also ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the Spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.
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