By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideMarch 30, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The word hero is one that is often used to describe ordinary humans who perform tasks above the capabilities of their peers. In the military, the word serves is an adjective used to describe those who have risen above normal capabilities and sacrificed themselves for others.
Friday at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, tribute was paid to elite Army heroes as the Medal of Honor wall was unveiled before a crowd of about 50 to 60 guests and spectators.
Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg's garrison commander, hosted the event, which was also attended by Brig. Gen. Michael Garrett, chief of staff, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fayetteville Mayor Anthony Chiavonne and other special guests.
The wall was unveiled and featured the names of 73 individuals who were assigned to airborne or special forces units when they were awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for gallantry in combat.
ASOM director Jim Bartlinski said he was honored that they were able to unveil the wall during the National Medal of Honor Day celebration.
"It's a great honor and it's also humbling to have this here because it represents, in most cases, the ultimate sacrifice that our Soldiers have given for our country and for their comrades. The thing that strikes me the most is that there's an interactive element of this exhibit that has interviews with the Medal of Honor recipients and to a man, they talk about how they did not deserve that medal and of how the other guy deserved that medal. It's very humbling and it makes me proud to be an American and to be the director of this fine museum," Bartlinski said.
Sicinski spoke about the overuse of the word hero as it is used in society to describe everyday actions. Bartlinski agreed and said it makes the actions of the Medal of Honor recipients even more significant.
"They are true heroes and I agree with the colonel in that assessment -- that it is an overused word, but hopefully through this exhibit, we can show people who the true heroes are."
Among the Family members in attendance, was Deborah Joel, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence K. Joel, an airborne medic, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam. Joel, a native of Winston-Salem, N.C., has a medical clinic at Fort Bragg named after him as well as Winston-Salem's main events coliseum, which also bears his name. The Joel Auditorium at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is also named in his honor.
Deborah Joel said she and her Family are proud of the display.
"For our Family, it's a military treasure so that generations upon generations of our Family can come up here and see my father's name on the wall, knowing that he is not forgotten."
Joel said despite attending countless ceremonies, Friday's event was the first time they have taken part in a ceremony to commemorate National Medal of Honor Day.
"This is very, very important for us and what's special about it is that it brings recognition to National Medal of Honor Day. I don't think a lot of civilians know about this day and this certainly gets the day out so that even schools can start celebrating and reading about Medal of Honor recipients," she said.