On Friday evening, seven Congressional Medal of Honor recipients discovered for the seventh year the high regard in which a small north Texas town holds them.

One of them even commented privately, according to Lynnette Pettigrew, director of the Gainesville Civic Center, about the high regard and the politeness and civility of Gainesville.

The recipients as a group and individually commented on the hospitality and eagerness given.

In giving honor to these men, Gainesville earned honor itself.

Gainesville remains the sole Medal of Honor Host City since its inception in 2001.

The Medal of Honor Host City Program should have replication, according to a U.S. Representative. U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, filed House Resolution 271 in the U.S. House of Representatives..

The resolution’s wording recognizes “the heroism and sacrifice of Medal of Honor recipients, commending the efforts of the Medal of Honor Host City Program in Gainesville, Texas, to celebrate and honor the contributions of Medal of Honor recipients, and encouraging the expansion of the program.”

The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

John Finn, the eldest of the recipients at 97-years-old, was not at the banquet. He was resting in his room after a hectic two-days of public appearances, and the duty of serving as grand marshal coming up on Saturday.

Six recipients were honored at the banquet: Drew Dix, Don Ballard, Jack Lucas, David McNerney, Robert O’Malley and James Stone.

City Manager Mike Land served as the master of ceremonies for the event.

After the social hour, which ended at about 7 p.m., the program was begun with the invocation given by Chaplain Mike Hogg. The Pledge to the Flag, led by the third grade classes of Mrs. Galene Morris and Ms. Dianne LeClair of Chalmers Elementary School. The pledge was followed by a charming song, “If I Could Write a Magic Song To Bring Us Peace.”

Medal of Honor Recipient Jack Lucas spoke briefly about the kindness of the people in Gainesville and then turned the program over to the guest speaker, Dr. Adrian Lewis.

Lewis spoke about the necessity of the soldier. He noted that every time the U.S. reduced the size of the standing army some event arose demanding the use of U.S. forces.

Lewis, an instructor at the University of North Texas and the History Department chairman at UNT, presented a sweeping critical examination of every major American war since 1941: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the first and second Persian Gulf wars. As he carefully considers the myriad cultural forces that surrounded each military engagement, Adrian R. Lewis offers an original, provocative look at the motives people and governments used to wage war, the discord among military personnel, the flawed political policies that guided military strategy, and the civilian perceptions that characterized each conflict.

The Andrews Sisters, portrayed by Kelly Corbett, Lori Hart and Cindy Martin entertained the troops at the banquet with the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.”

Land announced the winners of the silent auction and said it had raised more than $2,000 for the Host City Program.

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1922, along with the leaders of the community, pioneered the project and have seen it through from idea to implementation. While designed to honor living recipients of the nation’s highest decoration for military valor, it also was initiated with the intent of exposing the citizens of Gainesville to these role models of selfless service. When visiting the city, these men of uncommon valor will be invited to share their experiences with students, clubs, and local organizations. By providing youth the opportunity to hear, first-hand, these amazing tales of gallantry and the effect that these circumstances have had on the remainder of their lives, the principles of patriotism and duty will be propagated throughout the current generation and beyond. It also gives civic groups and classes an opportunity to thank them for everything that they have done for our country.

Pettigrew was pleased with the turnout for the event. She said, “We had a packed house in here and we had a flood.”

For information about the Medal of Honor Host City Program or about how to become a member of the Host City Program, call Lynnette Pettigrew at 668-4551.

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