160 years ago, Civil War soldiers were awarded the first Medals of Honor. Now, a Medal of Honor Monument will soon be built on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Last year, Woody Williams, born and raised in West Virginia, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, passed away. Williams was the only surviving Marine in his 6 man demolition team at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Chad Graham, President and CEO of the Woody Williams Foundation, said monuments offer a place of permanence for Gold Star families.
“Telling those stories, having that place of permanence to tie those stories to is very, very important, both with the museum and with this monument, so that for generations, those stories will be told,” he said.
Chris Cassidy, President and CEO of the Medal of Honor Museum and Foundation, said the National Medal of Honor Monument Act passed unanimously in both the U.S. House and Senate in 2021.
“There’s lots of stuff right now that divide people. There’s very few things that bring people together. And this project is something that unites people. And that’s why we’re so proud to be part of it,” he said.
The medal is a reminder of those that lost their lives for their county, Graham added.
“Those that live to tell the story, and to be the bearer, the recipient of that medal, and to be the bearer of that honor, they carry that for those that didn’t get to come home,” Graham continued.
As of March 2022, there are 66 living Medal of Honor recipients, the youngest being 33-year-old William Carpenter of Mississippi who received the award for his service in Afghanistan in 2014.