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5/22/2009
12:00 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Remembering And Honoring Our Heroes On Memorial Day

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day in honor of America's warriors who have sacrificed so much to keep the rest of us safe, I wanted to share a story about a small American city building a small but lovely memorial to three of its sons who gave their lives in military service to America and in so doing won this country's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day in honor of America's warriors who have sacrificed so much to keep the rest of us safe, I wanted to share a story about a small American city building a small but lovely memorial to three of its sons who gave their lives in military service to America and in so doing won this country's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.In Farmington, New Mexico, ground will be broken tomorrow for a memorial dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients Marine Lance Corporal Kenneth Lee Worley, who was killed in Vietnam; U.S. Army PFC Jose F. Valdez, who was killed in World War II; and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Franklin D. Miller, who made it home after his tour in Vietnam but later died of cancer.

"Plaques explaining sacrifices of the three military heroes will sit atop three columns made of river-rock once the memorial is finished," says an article on the Farmington Daily Times website. "A bronze eagle would perch atop a fourth column that explains the Medal of Honor, awarded for bravery and sacrifice to more than 3,400 service members since it was established during the Civil War."

It's odd that one small town would be home to three of this country's most-distinguished war heroes, but it's also consistent with the stories told by some winners of the Medal of Honor: they considered themselves to be ordinary men placed in extraordinary circumstances, who were just doing their jobs the best they could. But reading about what they did under the most unimaginably difficult circumstances renders these heroes anything but ordinary, as these Daily Times excerpts indicate:

--"Worley died Aug. 12, 1968 when he threw himself on a grenade near him and his comrades in Vietnam, according to his medal's citation. His body absorbed the force of the explosion so his five comrades sustained only minor wounds." --"Valdez died Jan. 25, 1945, after preventing 200 Germans from entering the town of Rosenkrantz, France, and allowing five of his Army comrades to return to American lines in World War II, according to the U.S. military." --"Miller risked his life in Vietnam when he treated four soldiers wounded in an explosion. He single-handedly defended the soldiers from several attacks, according to his medal's citation."

To get a better sense of what the Medal of Honor stands for, and the truly extraordinary bravery, valor, and honor of its recipients, take a look at a book called "Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes In Their Own Words", compiled and edited by Larry Smith.

And while these Medal of Honor recipients achieved this country's highest level of recognition, each member of the U.S. military, active or retired, living or dead, deserves our thanks and honor every single day, but particularly on Memorial Day.

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