Each year, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, comprised solely of Medal of Honor recipients, gathers in a different city in the United States to celebrate its annual convention. During this time, the recipients assemble to honor and remember all who have served our country and to further the brotherhood among one another. This year, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was chosen as the site for the convention. More than 50 Medal of Honor Recipients attended this year’s convention.
Recipients of the United States’ highest medal for valor traveled from across the country to share their unique bond of heroism, sacrifice and patriotism; pay tribute to those who have gone before them; and welcome new recipients from recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It is important to remember our history, and to remember those who fought for the liberties that many of us take for granted,” said Robert J. Monahan, president and CEO of the convention. “As the location of one of the most crucial turning points in the evolution of our nation, Gettysburg inherently has the historic significance to host this 150th milestone for our soldiers.”
“This convention was an opportunity to not only gather together as brothers-in-arms, but to also recognize the historical significance of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg and the founding of the Medal of Honor,” said retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Harold (Hal) Arthur Fritz, Medal of Honor recipient (Vietnam War) and president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. “As time passes and we see the number of recipients dwindle with each passing year, it becomes increasingly important to meet and honor the legacy of the Medal and our comrades who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.”
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society convened for its annual convention September 18-22, 2013. Select events over the course of the convention opened to the public. These events were, Autograph Signing – Thursday, September 19th, Town Hall Forum at Gettysburg College – Friday, September 20th and an evening Concert on the Gettysburg Battlefield – Friday, September 20th.
Pennsylvania Clan Irwin Commissioner Bill Irwin and his wife Ann, decided to take the bull by the horns and offer their services to coordinate volunteers for the autograph session. Taking their vision to active duty components and Veteran Service Organizations, they managed to obtain more than 60 volunteers for the day acting as greeters, ambassadors, security and media. Organizations who stepped up to handle this responsibility and honor to serve those who served, were Clan Irwin Association, the Scottish American Military Society, the Marine Corps League, active duty Soldiers, Marines and Airmen, JROTC cadets, US Army Reserve Ambassadors, PA VFW leadership, the Sons of the American Legion PA leadership, and the American Legion.
The convention was more than an occasion to remember; it was also an opportunity to teach the next generation the core values of our nation. The Medal of Honor recipients visited local Middle and High Schools as part of the Society’s Character Development Program, which educates students about the values rooted in the Medal of Honor: courage, integrity, sacrifice, commitment, citizenship and patriotism.
Bill adds “Thanks to all our comrades in arms for volunteering. Without your dedication to share part of yourself, to give without asking makes us honored to stand with you. The success of an accomplished mission would not have happened without you.”
The convention concluded with the passing of the Medal of Honor flag to the Medal of Honor Foundation’s Knoxville, Tennessee delegation, who will host the convention in 2014.
Editors Note: there are more than seven Irwin,Irvin, Ervin et al recipients of the Medal of Honor