WASHINGTON, D.C. – Medal of Honor Recipients are spotlighting others on the day that Congress set aside to “foster public appreciation and recognition of Medal of Honor recipients”—National Medal of Honor Day.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society—the Congressionally-chartered organization of the 65 living Medal of Honor Recipients—is holding its annual Citizen Honors Awards today in Arlington, Virginia, to recognize five ordinary U.S. citizens and one nonprofit organization for demonstrating Medal of Honor Values in 2022–courage, sacrifice, citizenship, integrity, commitment, and patriotism. The program is one of the way
s the Congressional Medal of Honor Society conducts its mission to promote worthy citizenship.
At this event being emceed by Fox News Channel’s Chief National Security Correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, Medal of Honor Recipients will place a medallion hung from a ribbon—a Citizen Honors Award—around the neck of the individual honorees, echoing the ceremony in which they, themselves, were recognized with our country’s most prestigious award for valor in combat.
This year’s honorees–two posthumous–are credited with saving the lives of others in shootings and a near drowning, as well as performing acts of service benefitting the military veteran community. The honorees are from the Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Colorado Springs and Minneapolis areas. The organization to be recognized—USVets— is based in Los Angeles but operates in multiple cities.
Medal of Honor Recipient and Society President Leroy Petry commented, “Ordinary people do extraordinary things. There are inspiring acts of service, sacrifice and heroism happening every day all over our country. Service and sacrifice don’t require wearing a military uniform.”
The awards event takes place later in the day after Medal of Honor Recipients participate in a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery earlier in the day. Those interred there are, themselves, Medal of Honor Recipients.
A panel assembled by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society considers all nominations and selects national finalists. Then, a second panel made up exclusively of Medal of Honor Recipients, Americans whose actions have truly defined the words “courage” and “selfless service” – selects individuals and organizations from those finalists to receive the Citizen Honors Awards.
Medal of Honor Values
A new poll on behalf of the Medal of Honor Foundation announced earlier this week delivered a clear message that there is a substantial gap between the values Americans see as important and how they believe those same values are taught and lived in society today, underscoring the need for programs like the Society’s Citizen Honors Awards and Character Development Program.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos, a global research company, found that four in five Americans (79%) believe having strong values and character is important to Americans. Yet, the poll also shows that seven in ten (71%) believe that society is not emphasizing values enough. A strong majority of Americans (87%) agree that society would be a better place if we had stronger values and that it’s less values-oriented than in previous generations (77%).
The poll asked respondents about character and values broadly, in addition to their views on the core values most associated with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor in combat. They are courage, sacrifice, citizenship, integrity, commitment, and patriotism.
The 2023 Citizen Honors Awards Honorees
Medal of Honor Recipients selected the following individuals and organization for exemplary service to fellow Americans by going above and beyond the call of duty to aid others. Video content for media can be found here.
Anthony Alexander, Jr. – Young Hero Award (posthumous) – Collingdale, Pennsylvania
Anthony Alexander, Jr. is selected as a Young Hero honoree for his act of heroism on February 21, 2022, when he came to the immediate aid of three young children in imminent danger of drowning in a pond. Alexander pulled the first child to safety with a branch and then swam out to grab another child, pulling her to the side of the pond and safely out of the water. He then entered the water again to rescue the third child.
Richard Fierro – Single Act of Heroism Award – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Richard Fierro is selected for his singular act of heroism on November 19, 2022, when he charged through a chaotic crowd at a nightclub in Colorado Springs to stop an active shooter and strip him of his weapons, saving countless lives. Fierro’s courage reflects great credit upon himself, his family, and the state of Colorado.
Jean Kuczka – Single Act of Heroism Award (posthumous) – St. Louis, Missouri
Jean Kuczka is selected for her singular act of heroism on October 24, 2022, when she stood in front of her students at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School as a shooter entered her classroom. Kuczka placed herself between her students and danger, in order to save innocent lives. Kuczka’s courage reflects great credit upon herself, her family, and the state of Missouri.
Jennifer DeLuca – Service Act Award – Boston, Massachusetts
Jennifer DeLuca is known as a visionary who has used her understanding of the veteran community, as well as the private, public, and political sectors, to make a positive impact on the lives of veterans and their families. She has done so through various acts of kindness and spearheading the creation of unique programs for Fisher House of Boston, where she is the Executive Director. She embodies the Fisher House of Boston mission “to ease the burden of military veterans and their families during illness or injury” and goes above and beyond for our military and their families. Jennifer’s service reflects favorably on her, her family, and people across the nation.
Dominique Claseman – Youth Service Award – Olivia, Minnesota
Dominique wanted to show appreciation for the long line of men who have served our country and realized the need for a memorial in his town and. Dominique set out to raise $12-$15,000 but exceeded that goal, raising more than $77,000. Dominique’s service to his community reflects favorably on him, his family, and people across the nation.
U.S.VETS – Community Service Award – Los Angeles, California
U.S.VETS is on a mission to end veteran homelessness in the United States. The organization was founded by veterans to serve fellow veterans and is the leading nonprofit dedicated to the work of helping veterans and their families transition from homelessness through tailored support to help them gain independence. As U.S.VETS continues their mission, their work reflects great credit upon the state of California and the United States of America.
Find video profiles of these and other Citizen Honors Awards honorees here.
About the Citizen Honors Awards
Launched in 2007, the Citizen Honors Awards program reflects the mission of Medal of Honor Recipients to show that the values associated with the Medal of Honor are relevant to all Americans. The tradition is also in keeping with the preference of Recipients to shine a light on others rather than themselves as they believe that the Medals of Honor they were awarded should be seen more broadly as a symbol of the sacrifices and service of others. Each year a nationwide search is conducted to select five United States citizens and one organization to receive the Citizen Honors Awards. The awards were created to encourage others to recognize acts of heroism and selfless service. Nominations go through two rounds of judging, first by a panel of prominent citizens who create the top twenty list, followed by a panel of Medal of Honor Recipients whose actions have truly defined the words “courage” and “selfless service.” The second panel ultimately selects the individuals and organizations from the top 20 finalists to receive the Citizen Honors Awards. The Citizen Honorees exemplify the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice, integrity, commitment, patriotism, and citizenship. Learn more here: cmohs.org/citizen-honors/overview.
About the Congressional Medal of Honor Society
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Medal of Honor and its Recipients, inspiring Americans, and supporting the Recipients as they connect with communities across the country. Chartered by Congress in 1958, its membership consists exclusively of those individuals who have received the Medal of Honor. There are 65 living Recipients. Learn more about the Medal of Honor and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s initiatives at cmohs.org.
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