Supporting the United States’ Heroes – The Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients
Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta says he was just doing his job that October day nearly six years ago.
He was just doing his job when Taliban insurgents ambushed his platoon and a firefight ensued.
He was just doing his job when he saw one of his fellow soldier -- one of "his boys" -- being dragged to certain death by two Taliban fighters.
And he was just doing his job when he ran forward, and fired at the enemy until his mortally wounded friend was freed from their grasp. Giunta received the Medal in 2010.
Giunta’s message – that he acted due to his training, and with a profound sense of patriotism, call of service and sacrifice – was oft repeated by others who wear the Medal of Honor during the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention in Gettysburg, Pa., this month.
On Sept. 20, Giunta urged attendees at a town hall forum to remember why Americans volunteer to serve and defend freedom.
"We don't fight because we hate what is in front of us," Giunta told the crowd. "We fight because we love what is behind us."
Lockheed Martin was a proud sponsor of the 2013 convention, which is held annually to reunite living recipients as they continue their legacy of inspiring America’s youth, honoring patriots and exemplary citizens, and memorializing fellow recipients who have passed. Dozens of our employees volunteered at special events including a concert at Gettysburg by the President's Own U.S. Marine Band and the West Point Glee Club, a prayer service, a luncheon at the Eisenhower National Historic Site and a reception at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center.
Lockheed Martin CEO and President Marillyn Hewson and Executive Chairman Bob Stevens are on the board of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, which supports the Society’s goals of educating others about the Medal and the values of courage, sacrifice, service and patriotism. Stevens also served as the Chairman of the Convention.
On the last night of the convention, four men were honored for their contributions to furthering the ideals of the Society: actor Tom Selleck, for his support of the military; retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, for his advocacy of awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury; former National Football League star Nicholas Buoniconti, for his drive to raise awareness and money for spinal cord injury research; and the late journalist Timothy Hetherington, for his unwavering, bravery, passion and integrity in covering conflict. Hetherington’s honor was accepted by author Sebastian Junger and Hetherington’s mother.
During their acceptance speeches, the honorees turned the focus back to the extraordinary men who have given so much to this country.
Stevens thanked the Medal of Honor recipients for their service and their legacy.
“The enduring lesson of their lives is not that they, and only they, are a pre-ordained, select, highly exclusive group of men,” Stevens told the recipients during the awards dinner on Sept. 21. “But that we each possess the qualities of character that can make a difference in the lives of others, even when the circumstances are extreme.”
“To you, our recipients, please know that you serve as an inspiration for all who aspire to be better, for us to know that true courage comes from within, and that ordinary people can do extraordinary things,” Stevens continued. “We all thank you.”
In addition to the town hall forum at Gettysburg College, Medal recipients visited schools around Gettysburg to share their stories. The Medal of Honor Character Development Program is a teaching resource designed to provide students with opportunities to explore the important concepts of courage, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism, integrity and citizenship.
Medal recipient Clint Romesha talked about what makes the United States unique.
“Hope – that constant evolution of ideas, is what makes us a great country and our ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Romesha, who received his Medal for his actions in Afghanistan in 2009. “It all starts with an individual knowing there is more than ourselves.”
The Character Development Program is the legacy of the Medal of Honor recipients, who view it as a way they can inspire the youth of America to become great citizens in their communities, for their country, and the world.
“My students are extremely excited to meet in person the brave men who have demonstrated what it means to be the best person you can be,” said Jared Nace, social studies teacher for Bermudian Springs School District.
At Gettysburg College, a fifth-grader expressed her thanks to recipients Giunta, Romesha, and Harvey “Barney” Barnum, who received the Medal for his actions in Vietnam.
She stood in the middle of the crowd and spoke into the microphone so everyone could hear her message:
“Kids do understand the Medal of Honor and we want to thank you for your service,” the girl, 10, told the recipients. “You are true heroes.”
September 25, 2013
- The Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention is held annually to reunite living recipients as they continue their legacy of inspiring America’s youth, honoring patriots and exemplary citizens, and memorializing fellow recipients who have passed.
- Medal of Honor recipients visited schools in the community to educate others about the Medal and the values of courage, sacrifice, service and patriotism.
- Lockheed Martin was a proud sponsor of the 2013 Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention in Gettysburg, Pa., and dozens of our employees volunteered to support convention events.
Medal of Honor recipient Robert Simanek pauses during the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention in Gettysburg, Pa., on Sept. 21, 2013. Simanek, a former Marine, received his Medal for his actions in the Korean War.
Lockheed Martin CEO and President Marillyn Hewson talks with Medal of Honor recipient Robert Simanek during a reception at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention in Gettysburg, Pa., on Sept. 21, 2013. Simanek, a former Marine, received his Medal for his actions in the Korean War.
Medal of Honor recipients (from left) Harvey “Barney” Barnum, Sal Giunta and Clint Romesha spoke to about 150 people at a forum at Gettysburg (Pa.) College during the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention on Sept. 20, 2013. Journalist Chris Wallace (far right) moderated the forum.