Freedom doesn’t come free, and every year on November 11th Americans remember that on Veterans Day. Today there are more than 23 million veterans in the United States.
Students at Waubonsie Valley High School recently got a chance to meet two highly decorated veterans; the only two remaining Medal of Honor recipients in the state of Illinois. Both Captain Harold Fritz and Sergeant Allen James received the medal for their bravery and gallantry in the Army during the Vietnam War.
For Thomas Wozniak, a senior at Waubonsie who is enlisted to join the Marines after graduation, listening to two of the highest honored veterans in America was inspirational.
“I’m going to step in their footsteps and try to do my best,” said Wozniak.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor that a member of the armed forces can receive for their actions against an enemy. At one point there were 3,448 Medal of Honor recipients. Now, only 86 are still living.
“We are just ordinary people,” said Fritz. “We didn’t come from families of super heroes. You don’t take off this blazer and see an S underneath. We come from all walks of life, we continue to do things that support the military and recognize the valor and the sacrifice. And it also represents the sacrifice of the American people.”
“We used to be part of the largest group of veterans and now there’s only two of us left. That’s pretty special,” added Lynch.
While Captain Fritz and Sergeant Lynch inspire their audiences, they say their young audiences inspire them, right back.
“This is the future of America, these young men and women,” said Fritz. “These are going to be our leaders tomorrow; in the state, city, county, the federal government and the military. We have to make sure that we don’t toss them aside.”
“Our country is going to be left in good hands,” said Lynch. ”We’re only one generation away from losing it. The minute one-generation doesn’t stand up for what this country believes in, we’re gone. This kind of thing shows me that we have hope.”
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