MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration in the U.S., and is incredibly rare.
Each year, a convention of Medal of Honor recipients and their families is held. The Twin Cities has never hosted it, but with an announcement made today, that will be changing.
Thomas Kelley, the president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, announced today that the 2016 Medal of Honor Convention will be hosted by the Twin Cities.
Kelley said that the Twin Cities’ bid to host really stood out. He called the proposal “the most comprehensive we’ve ever seen. We were impressed to see the overwhelming support of local political dignitaries, military and veteran organizations, sponsors, and the general population.”
Minnesotans have a long and rich history of serving the military, including 56 Medal of Honor recipients, out of about 3,500 total, since the award was created in 1861.
A week of both public and private events will take place across the Twin Cities during the week of Oct. 4, culminating with the Patriot Awards Gala at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Oct. 8.
Kelley made the announcement at the FAIR School in Crystal, Minnesota where students had a chance to speak with him. It’s the small-scale version of what will take place during the Medal of Honor Convention in October, and the thrust of the Medal of Honor Society’s Character Development Program.
Liz Dapp, chairwoman of the Twin Cities Medal of Honor Convention, says that the program brings honorees and students together in a setting that allows them to learn from each other, “encourag[ing] students to selflessly act on the behalf of others and instills in them the belief that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things.”
Eighth grader Jacoby Andrews seems to understand that already.
“I think you should just do what you think is right morally to yourself, and not try to change your ways just to be cool in somebody else’s eyes,” he said.
With modesty common around here in Minnesota, Thomas Kelley summed his experience up this way:
“If someone had told any one of our recipients — myself included — that we would be awarded the medal one day we would have thought you were crazy. We’re normal, ordinary people who were put into extreme circumstances.”