Reluctant heroes: Medal of Honor recipients meet an adoring public

GETTYSBURG, PA.The autograph hounds waiting expectantly in a hotel lobby weren’t drawn by actors, musicians or politicians, but by a few dozen men whose rare and distinguished achievements have earned them the nation’s highest military honor.


Nearly half of the 79 living recipients of Medal of Honor are attending the gathering in Gettysburg, where some of its first recipients fought 150 years ago.

 The Medal of Honor Society annual convention gives the public an opportunity to collect the signatures of the men who have been honored by Congress for risking their lives beyond the call of duty in combat, and dozens of people waited Thursday for them to return from a luncheon at a nearby farm once owned by President Dwight Eisenhower.


Dave Loether, 62, a computer analyst from Pittsburgh, was hoping to add to the 55 signatures of Medal of Honor recipients he has collected on a U.S. Army flag. Loether knows many of their faces by sight — and their stories by heart.

 “It’s a piece of cloth with some ink on it — it’s worthless,” Loether said. “On the other hand, it’s priceless.”



Reluctant heroes: Medal of Honor recipients meet an adoring public

The men who hold the highest honor of valor in the land – the recipients of the Medal of Honor – are not known for easily capitulating, but on Thursday they gave in to the demands of their stature to grant admirers a piece of themselves for posterity – their autographs.

Mary Edwards Walker, a Union Army surgeon in the Civil War, the only woman to receive the medal, died in 1919.

Approximately 48 recipients of the Medal of Honor made themselves available to appease the yearning of fans for autographs, handshakes and photos at the second day of the weeklong Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s convention in Gettysburg.



Brad Mackinnon and his son, Robert, drove in for the day from their home in Michigan, this being the fourth convention the elder Mackinnon has attended.

In his backpack, Mackinnon carried a copy of “Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty,” which to date contains the signatures of 64 of the recipients featured in the book. On Thursday, Mackinnon hoped to collect eight more.

“You grow up thinking that the actors and actresses and sports guys are the heroes. And then you say, oh astronauts, they are pretty cool guys,” he said. “But then you come to realize that military veterans are the true heroes, and these guys the ultimate heroes. They won’t agree but they are doing their job.”


An autograph signing took place during the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention at Wyndham Gettysburg Hotel on Thursday September 19, 2013. Pittsburgh Battalion US Navel Sea Cadet Ian Sleigh holds onto a shell that he had signed by recipients of the Medal of Honor.


Quick facts: The Medal of Honor has been granted to 3,462 people.

Today there are 80 living recipients of the Medal of HonorThe medal was awarded to just one woman, Mary Walker, at Bull Run on July 21,1861.

Open to all members of the armed services, only one has been awarded to a member of the Coast Guard. Douglas Munro was awarded the medal for his actions at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal, on Sept. 27, 1942.

William Carney was the first African-American recipient. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 18,1863 at on July 18,1863 at Fort Wagner, S.C.


Extraordinary combat video shows soldier’s act of humanity


Army Capt. Will Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor at the White House next month for his bravery in Afghanistan. Some of Swenson’s heroism was captured on video that shows soldiers fight not only for their country, but for each other, too.




Captain Swenson, is one of three soldiers, for actions during the Battle of Ganjgal on September 8, 2009, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan: submitted to the DOD for this extraordinary honor. In 2011, Corporal Dakota Meyer was honored at the White House



The Civil War was the first conflict to be documented on film and early photographers captured thousands of images of the tragedies of war. On the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, here is a look back at the photographs that first exposed the greater public to the grim realities of the battlefield.


This image by Timothy H. O’Sullivan, titled “A Harvest of Death,” is one of the most iconic photographs from the Civil War.


A portrait of General George Gordon Meade, who famously led Union troops into victory at the battle of Gettysburg.


A portrait of General Robert E. Lee who led the Confederate troops at Gettysburg.


A scene from Gettysburg, Pa. on Nov. 19, 1863, the day that President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous address during the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery.


Men gather at Gettysburg, Pa. for the laying of the cornerstone of the Soldier’s National Monument on the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1865.

Gettysburg Address





85 Responses to “Reluctant heroes: Medal of Honor recipients meet an adoring public”

  1. 1 Nena20409
    September 21, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Service by those who care.

  2. September 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you LP, a wonderful historical post!

    I changed the date on it to put it up top, I think you had the date scheduled for yesterday so it wasn’t appearing on the front page.

    Thanks again LP, settling down to read it all now!

  3. September 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    WOW, LP!! Look at this post!! It’s so intriguing and a wonderful tribute to the MOH recipients. Great job assembling it all together for us. BRAVO!!

  4. 11 africa
    September 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Very well done historical piece. Thanks LP.

  5. 13 Nena20409
    September 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    With this president’s efforts to avoid a war in Syria and Iran…..Our men and women in the military are protected, honored and cherished more.


    From Iran to Syria, Obama’s Toughness Is Paying Off
    By Jeffrey Goldberg Sep 20, 2013 12:04 PM CT

    There is one main reason why Iran is making conciliatory noises about its relationship with the U.S. and about the future of its nuclear program, and there is one main reason why Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, is signaling his intention to give up his stockpiles of chemical weapons.
    The reason: President Barack Obama’s toughness.

    Yes, I know. Toughness isn’t a quality lately ascribed to the president. But hear me out.

  6. 19 africa
    September 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I brought this over from R&S.

    Chuck Todd inspired me to contact all my local media about presenting the facts on Obamacare. I sent this to my local paper yesterday. The executive editor replied me.

    This is my letter:

    I wish to make a suggestion to the News Journal. Please bear me out and read this to the end.

    On October 1, the Affordable Care Act will go into effect. This law will impact the lives of millions of Americans. However there is a lot that many residents may not know about the law. Once implemented, the law is expected to help some 30 million Americans.

    Already it is making an impact:

    – Medicare’s preventive benefits now come with a free visit with your primary care doctor every year to plan out your prevention services. And there are no more co-pays for preventative services in Medicare.

    -Small businesses get big tax credits—up to 50 percent of premium costs—for offering health insurance to their workers.

    – Insurers with unusually high administrative costs have to offer rebates to their customers, and every insurance company has to reveal how much it spends on overhead.

    -Free birth control and other preventative services for women, unless you work for a faith based organization that opposes birth control.

    – Seniors get $250 towards closing the “doughnut hole” in their prescription drug coverage.

    And there is much, much more to come once the law is implemented.

    I wonder if your newspaper would consider doing a town hall and inviting Pensacolans to hear about what the law offers. Many people do not know some of the simple, but major benefits in the law. For example, that no longer will people be denied service because of pre-existing conditions. Parents who wish to keep their children on their health insurance will be able to do so until the children turns 26. People suffering with substance abuse and mental health issues will no longer go uncovered. Under ACA, they will have insurance.

    Just Wednesday, I was able to share this fact with the mother of a 22-year-old, who has a heart condition. While his condition is stable now, she wanted to make sure he had health insurance, in case he ever got sick again. I informed her about the pre-existing component. I also told her that her child could remain on her insurance until 26, if she so desired.

    No longer will pregnancies be considered a pre-existing condition.

    There are hundreds of thousands like this mom out there. A little bit of information will help residents. The goal is not to convince anyone, but present the facts about the law.

    Many companies are already promoting the law.

    For example, WebMd, the immensely popular medical Website, is breaking down and explaining the law. CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aide, Blue Cross Blue Shield are all partnering to promote and explain the benefits of the law. Companies like the NFL Baltimore Ravens, D.C. United Soccer major league are promoting the law, as well as a host of celebrities.

    Information is easily accessed at https://www.healthcare.gov/

    There is also a lot of misinformation about the law out there. One of the reasons the media exists is to educate and correct information when it is distorted. People should be given the facts so that they can make decisions that will be beneficial to them and their loved ones.

    I am passionate about the implementation of this law because I have a chronically ill husband. But beyond that, as a social worker, it bothers me that millions of poor people stand to benefit from the law, but are unaware of the facts.

    This will be a great service for the people in the four-county area or as far as you coverage goes. Communities should be aware. Perhaps partnering with health care organizations in the community will help. Provide a “Did You Know,” segment, etc.

    If you have made it this far, THANK YOU very much and I hope you will give this idea some consideration. Or at the very least allow me, as a private citizen, some space to write a piece on how I think the law will help many, many residents in our communities.

    Executive Editor Response:

    Hello, ____!

    We actually have tossed around the idea of that kind of thing and have not ruled it out. But in the meantime, we are in overdrive on putting together content to break the law down for our readers. On Sept. 29, we are publishing a 24-page guidebook to the new law and its benefits.

    Good to hear from you.

  7. September 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Beautiful, lp. On this subject: Our local NBC anchor was in Gettysburg Thursday and Friday doing lots of reports. One of the reasons is that this event is coming to Knoxville next year.

    • September 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      TY, tnmtngirl. I didn’t realize next years event would be in Knoxville. I have fond memories of Knoxville, the city… I went a few times for NCAA Basketball Tourney games, but we got hosed by the refs. It was when Auburn was the #2 team in the country, and the refs were in the tank for Ohio St. Gave our best player 4 fouls in the 1rst half……. I could go on, but I wont burden you with anymore of my rant 🙂 On a brighter note: Really cool thing about Neyland Stadium where the Vols play is you can take a boat up the river to the stadium for Boatgating…. that was pretty awesome. We lost the game I went to though! http://www.knoxvilledailysun.com/entertainment/2012/august/boatgating.html

  8. September 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Brava LP!

    This is a wonderful tribute to those who’ve sacrificed so much for this country.

    On a side note, what galls me in all this the way the public unthinkingly holds GOP up as the “strong” party that has interests of the military at heart, when in FACT all tehy’ve done is throw out other people’s children, husbands, wives to be cannon fodder in pointless wars. And worse still deny the veterans who caome home the resources, dignity and respect they deserve.

    Yet still majority of veterans vote Republican. I don’t get it.

    But I still honor their sacrifices

  9. September 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm

  10. September 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    • September 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      I love her! Just a quick reminder about who she is (wiki):

      Speier served as a congressional staffer for Congressman Leo Ryan. Speier was part of the November 1978 fact-finding mission to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the Reverend Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple followers, almost all of whom were American citizens who had moved to Jonestown, Guyana, with Jones in 1977 and 1978.[8] Speier was one of only two members of the mission who were concerned enough about potential violence to make out a will before traveling to Jonestown.[13] Several Peoples Temple members ambushed the investigative team and others boarding the plane to leave Jonestown on November 18. Five people died, including Congressman Ryan. While attempting to shield herself from rifle and shotgun fire behind small airplane wheels with the other members of the team, Speier was shot five times and waited 22 hours before help arrived.[14] The murder of Congressman Ryan was the only assassination of a Congressman in the line of duty in the history of the United States.[15] That same day, over 900 of the remaining members of the Peoples Temple died in Jonestown and Georgetown.

      • September 21, 2013 at 1:01 pm

        Oh my gawd Meta, I’d completely forgotten that she was the one of the ones shot during the Jones madness – and I watched a documentary on it recently! Thanks a million for the reminder, what a story.

        • 41 carolyn
          September 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

          I learned that the Congresscritter she referred to who got over $3,000 in food and lodging money for a six day trip to Russia, is Frank Lucas, the Repub in the district next to mine. Also she said that 21,000 people in his district use food stamps, and he had the audacity to vote aye on the horrendous bill. 21,000 in his district is a large proportion, as it is a mostly rural and farm district…..which will vote him in again in 2014!!!!!

  11. September 21, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    So…….. just want to share some AWESOMESAUCE happening with the ACA.


    I know most of you aren’t in Cali, but go check out the website, and click on SHOP AND COMPARE. You’ll get a tool that will show if you would qualify for gov assistance in paying your premiums, and show you the awesome individual plans that will be on the Covered California Health Exchange. It’s so well designed and user friendly.

    The down a lot because so many people are accessing it. 😆 Which kind of ROCKS.

  12. September 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Can someone tell me why I had the brilliant idea 9 years ago to start watching English football? Chelsea should be up 2-nil by now.

    • September 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Never mind your woes, I have Ivanovic and Ramires in my Fantasy team (hush – Ramires was cheap), so I’m sitting here wanting both of them to do excellently, while their team-mates do rubbishly. It’s ruining my Saturday.

      • September 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

        The day I do fantasy league for any sport, the missus will most definitely shoot me. I’d be intolerable then.

        • September 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm

          I’m sorry I ever started. I usually spend half my week contemplating my transfers and team selections, Jose probably spends less time (well, judging by their recent performances). There are about 30 of us in this league, but all I care about is finishing ahead of one particular work colleague, and he feels the same – it’s ferociously competitive. That Snodgrass fella missed a penalty for Norwich today and I fox-trotted around the house. Why? Because I almost put him in my team this week. Seriously, I need to get out more.

  13. 63 mtmarilyn
    September 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Oh LP, what a post. I am in tears, the bravery of our men and women in uniform is beyond all. And then they come home and are treated so awlful by Congress by not following thru on promises. Thank you for the reminder. Off to share.

  14. 67 MightyPamela
    September 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Some stats for this beautiful weekend: Sun enters Libra 22 Sept 2013, at 4:44 (dig that!) PM EDT, marking the beginning of the Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere and the Vernal Equinox in the southern hemisphere. Libra is the only zodiac sign represented by a non-human/non-animal symbol: it is depicted by a set of balance scales, (tho sometimes I have seen it represented as a robed figure holding the scales.) Libra is ruled by Venus, and is considered to be the sign of universal relationship. In a horoscope, the seventh house of one-to-one relationship is ruled by Libra. It is a cardinal air sign. Catch y’all later! 🙂

  15. 69 vcprezofan2
    September 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    THANKS LovelyPlains!

    ONE of the things I love about TODvillage is that each member of the village council has a slightly different area of strength/focus – makes for a thoroughly informed, well-rounded community..

  16. 74 utaustinliberal
    September 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Chelsea beats Fulham 2-0 and now we’re back at the top of the Premier League table and Manchester United is sinking…..all is right with the world again.

  17. September 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Fellow TODers,
    I need your prayers. I just got a call telling me that my mentor and his son were caught up in the terrorist attack in Nairobi this morning. The son was shot but survived but his Dad, my mentor cannot be found as of now. He’s 77yrs old. They had traveled from Ghana to Kenya on vacation and had just arrived at the mall when the attack happened.

    I’m so forlorn. Don’t know what to do

  18. 80 utaustinliberal
    September 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    YES! YES! YES!

  19. 81 jacquelineoboomer
    September 21, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Oh, LP, I could barely get past this line:

    ”It’s a piece of cloth with some ink on it — it’s worthless,” Loether said. “On the other hand, it’s priceless.”

    • 82 jacquelineoboomer
      September 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      LP – I can’t take the proper time to look at this entire post right now, but I shall read it by nightfall! Thank you for performing this service for all of us, because we must remember our few precious heroes who survived to tell the tale.

      • September 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm

        JB, you’re a treasure! Your sentiments are the reason I felt it was important to highlight this event, and the service of our brave men & women: Past/Present.

        • 84 jacquelineoboomer
          September 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

          Sweetness! It’s also so wonderful to be reminded by you and others that the “battle” for our country’s values is worth fighting for, even if we don’t don the more official battle uniform.

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