By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneDecember 22, 2009
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Military stars will fall on Huntsville in August.
Huntsville could very well adopt its own version of the stateAca,!a,,cs famous slogan Aca,!" Aca,!A"Stars Fell on AlabamaAca,!A? Aca,!" when some of the nationAca,!a,,cs most highly decorated military heroes travel to the city to participate in the first-ever Medal of Honor event hosted in their honor in Alabama.
The Aca,!A"Medal of Honor Gala: In the Company of HeroesAca,!A? is set for Aug. 28 at the U.S. Space & Rocket CenterAca,!a,,cs Davidson Center for Space Exploration. The gala, hosted by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, will be the main event in a weekend of activities planned for about 35 Medal of Honor recipients and foundation board members who are expected to attend.
Aca,!A"This will be the largest gathering of Medal of Honor recipients in the state of Alabama and one of the largest ever in the Southeast,Aca,!A? said Jay Town, a former Marine major who is serving as the weekendAca,!a,,cs event chairman.
Aca,!A"The event has a dual purpose Aca,!" first, to celebrate and perpetuate the legacy of the Medal of Honor and to celebrate its recipients, and, second, to raise funds for the foundation projects.Aca,!A?
The foundation project that will benefit specifically from the gala will be the Medal of Honor Curriculum Program, which will be introduced in local schools during the 2010 school year.
Aca,!A"The program will teach students about the Medal of Honor and its value system and the six character traits of Medal of Honor recipients Aca,!" courage, sacrifice, patriotism, citizenship, integrity and commitment. The lessons are taught across all curriculums,Aca,!A? Town said. Aca,!A"By Aug. 28th of next year, the curriculum will already be in some schools in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County. Our goal is to permeate the curriculum in Alabama, the Southeast and the nation.Aca,!A?
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force. It is awarded for Aca,!A"conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of oneAca,!a,,cs life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against the enemy of the United States.Aca,!A?
Of the 3,500 servicemembers who have received the Medal of Honor, there are only 92 living recipients who are members of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation was established by the society to educate and raise awareness in the American public about the Medal of Honor and what it represents, and to raise funds to support its public outreach activities.
Those Medal of Honor recipients who travel to Huntsville will participate in activities that take them into local schools to talk to students about the American values of courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism.
Aca,!A"Huntsville is a natural place to bring this gala because of the military and aerospace footprint here,Aca,!A? Town said. Aca,!A"The citizens here are a patriotic bunch and this is a good place to get the curriculum program off the ground.Aca,!A?
About 650 people are expected to attend the gala, mostly through corporate sponsorships that are now being sought. The event will include the presentation of foundation awards, such as the Circle of Honor Award.
While the foundationAca,!a,,cs most well-known member is Medal of Honor recipient Leo Thorsness, who lives in Madison and who is the foundationAca,!a,,cs president, the gala is expected to bring some international stars to Huntsville. It is hoped that the galaAca,!a,,cs emcee will be foundation member Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.
Corporate sponsors are essential to the galaAca,!a,,cs success. They will help support the entire weekend of activities as well as provide funds for the curriculum program, which will be a lasting legacy to Alabama, the Southeast and the nation, Town said.
Aca,!A"We started pitching Huntsville for the gala in February 2009. This is a growing, burgeoning place known for its patriotism,Aca,!A? Town said.
Aca,!A"What better city than Huntsville to celebrate the Medal of Honor' IAca,!a,,cm honored to be a part of this and to have such a great team to work with.Aca,!A?
Volunteers working on the Medal of Honor gala and weekend activities include Tommy and Middie Thompson, David Carney, Loretta Spencer, Judy Link, Melanie Kettle, Kelly Schrimsher, Joe Fitzgerald, Joyce Griffin and Dana Town. Eula Battle is serving as the local foundation liaison for the Medal of Honor curriculum.
For more information, email MedalofHonorGala@yahoo.com or call 651-0414. To learn more about the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and its foundation, visit http://www.cmohfoundation.