By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity — the chance to come face to face with three Medal of Honor winners.
Dozens of students from the Corsicana Independent School District, along with some members of local government and the public, were in attendance Friday at the IOOF Event Center for a very special appearance by Major Patrick H. Brady, First Lt. Fritz and Capt. Roger H.C. Donlon, all retired Vietnam veterans.
The three men, appearing in Corsicana by special arrangement of the Bill McNutt Family, took great interest in meeting with the young people in attendance, spending time talking with them in the audience before and after the program, and one-by-one answering the questions asked by the students.
McNutt said it was important to preserve the history these men represent.
“Freedom has to be earned by every generation,” McNutt said. “If the current generation doesn’t understand the sacrifices of previous generations, that can be broken.”
McNutt said the men are a part of a group of Medal of Honor winners who gather yearly for a fund-raiser to pay for the distribution of books to local school libraries.
“They like to speak to young people, particularly junior high students,” he said. “When I had a chance to help pass this along to another generation, I wanted to.”
Each of the medal winners listened attentively as youngsters asked question after question, some two dozen young people were lined up at one point to quiz the heroes.
Speaking in answer to the group’s feelings about winning the medal, Donlon said wearing the award was an honor and privilege, but brought with it a solemn responsibility.
“We all wear it especially for the men that didn’t come home,” he said. “We know personally men that sacrificed their lives. ... we can’t forget the loss our nation suffered.”
“It represents the sacrifice and dedication of all those that have served, and are serving now,” added Fritz.
“One of great things is the access it brings us to come to events like this and meet young people like you,” said Brady.
Speaking in response to a question from a Collins University student, who asked what motivated them to keep on fighting in the face of danger and serious wounds, Donlon turned it into a teaching moment.
“Everyone sitting in this room, whether you be male or female, whether adult or youth, you’ve got that ability to reach out there as a hero an do something heroic,” he said. “It’s what causes that heroism to go from a ‘kindling ember’ to a ‘bright fire’ at the moment it needs to be done.”
Bob Belcher may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: email@example.com