Robert Patterson received his Medal of Honor in 1969 for risking his life above and beyond the call of duty during the Vietnam War. He’s among the 65 living honorees now waiting to see the creation of a National Medal of Honor Monument in Washington.
Congress is moving forward with plans to build the monument to honor the 3,600 Americans who have earned the nation’s highest award for valor in combat.
In 1969 there were 400 recipients alive, today there are only 65.
Patterson lives in Pace and is turning 75 years old next month. He said he doesn’t talk much about his medal – and when he wears it, it’s only to honor the men and women who’ve fallen.
“I just hope there are no more new recipients,” said Patterson, “because if there aren’t, that means we don’t have any wars going on and everybody is safe. That’s the thing I look at most.”
A bill before Congress will create the monument in Washington D.C. – and includes help to determine its specific location.
The bill is named after Hershel “Woody” Williams, who was the nation’s last living Medal recipient from World War II before he passed away last summer.
Medal of Honor Museum and Foundation president and CEO Chris Cassidy said the goal of the project is to inspire people through the stories of those who went above and beyond for their country.
“We’re focused on the stories of normal Americans who did something completely above and beyond when the nation needed it,” said Cassidy. “And not every visitor will be somebody that’s going to put a uniform on. But courage is required in all aspects of one’s life. We aim to inspire people to be more courageous in their own lives.”
This month marks 160 years since the awarding of the first-ever Medal of Honor, given by President Abraham Lincoln to soldiers fighting in the Civil War.
Since then, some 40 million Americans have served the country in uniform, many making the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives.