LIMA — Sunday was Medal of Honor Day, a national day of recognition and the 155th anniversary of the first awarding of the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.
Larry Huffman, a Lima attorney and history buff, talked about the Medal of Honor at the Allen County Museum Sunday.
His discussion centered around The Medal of Honor in World War I specifically, but touched on some of the history behind that leading up to today.
“The Medal of Honor, which had been around for 50 years prior to our getting into World War I, affected how World War I was fought. World War I, being a brand new kind of total war, affected when and how and why the Medal of Honor was awarded,” Huffman said.
But Lima wouldn’t see a Medal of Honor recipient until much later.
“There were no Medal of Honor recipients from Lima in World War I. There were, of course, two in World War II, Leonard F. Mason and William Metzger. Those two were born right after World War I in 1920 and 1922. They grew up with the idea that the ‘war to end all wars’ had been fought, and they had certainly heard of some of the more famous World War I Medal of Honor stories including the story of the ‘Lost Battalion’ and the story of Sgt. York. Those were pretty well known and publicized in the 1920s and ‘30s,” said Huffman.
Mason and Metzger didn’t survive long enough to see their Medal of Honor.
“For the last 15 years, there’s been a lot of Medal of Honor news. We’ve had a lot of retroactive Medals of Honor awarded, and, of course, with the War on Terror, we’ve had 17 Medal of Honor Recipients, only 11 of whom survived. The first seven to get [the Medal of Honor] in Iraq and Afghanistan died and there have been 11 since then,” he said.
Huffman says there’s something special about these people.
“American Medal of Honor recipients are truly the best we have to offer in this country. None of them were special ahead of time. They were just in a difficult situation. You find when you discover and you review the histories of the 3,498 men and one woman who have received the Medal of Honor, you’ll find out that their bravery and what they’ve been noted for with the Medal of Honor is they were looking after somebody else at the time. There were 72 guys in Vietnam that threw themselves on a live grenade to save the people around them. There’s only one reason you do that — nobody jumps on a live grenade if they’re the only one around,” he said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.