To mark the 160th anniversary of the first awarding of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest recognition for valor in combat, the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation (NMOHMF) hosted an event today at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in celebration of our nation’s bravest heroes.
Sixteen Medal of Honor recipients and more than two dozen bipartisan members of Congress were among the honored guests as the new “Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams National Medal of Honor Monument Location Act” was officially unveiled and the Founding gift to the National Medal of Honor Monument Fund was announced.
“As we commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Medal of Honor, we recognize the incredible sacrifices made by our nation’s bravest heroes, and we honor their unwavering commitment to protecting our freedoms,” NMOHMF President and CEO Chris Cassidy said. “It was an honor to be joined by so many distinguished guests, including Medal of Honor recipients and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, as we pay tribute to these selfless individuals and the values they represent.”
During the event, the Museum announced that congressional legislation to determine the location of a new National Medal of Honor Monument along the National Mall will be named after the late Hershel “Woody” Williams, who until his death last summer was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. The legislation – to be titled the “Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams National Medal of Honor Monument Location Act” – will be introduced next month in the House by U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) and follows the 2021 unanimous approval by the House and Senate of a bill authorizing the Monument’s creation. That bill was signed into law by President Biden in late 2021.
Williams, after his long career of service as a Marine, dedicated his life to uplifting and honoring our nation’s veterans, creating the Woody Williams Foundation to do exactly that. The foundation is still active today in 179 communities across all 50 states and has installed well over 100 memorial monuments to Gold Star families. Williams’ family were honored guests at the event.
“The fact that this bill is named after Woody Williams makes this moment even more meaningful,” Cassidy said. “We are deeply thankful for the support of all those who have worked tirelessly to make this milestone possible and will continue our efforts to ensure that both the Monument in DC and the Museum in Texas stand as fitting and honorable tributes to these extraordinary heroes.”
Also during the event, it was announced David McIntyre of Tri-West Healthcare will make the first founding gift to design and construct the National Medal of Honor Monument in Washington, D.C., which Congress unanimously approved in 2021.
“David is an incredible supporter of the military,” Cassidy said, “and he has a long history with our nation’s Medal of Honor recipients who embody the very best of our country. We are so proud he is helping us ensure that their stories and legacies are never forgotten.”
The construction of the National Medal of Honor Museum has been progressing steadily toward its completion since breaking ground one year ago on National Medal of Honor Day. The latest milestone in this effort is the installation of five towering pillars, each representing one of the five traditional branches of the American armed forces. These pillars, as part of the museum, will ensure that the Medal of Honor remains woven into the fabric of America, not just for another 160 years, but for generations of Americans to come.
Out of 40 million servicemembers since the Civil War, just 3,516 individuals have received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary valor in combat, and only 65 recipients are alive today.