June 19, 2024

Officials of Riverside National Cemetery held a ceremony March 2 for National Medal of Honor Day, which was held to remember the five Medal of Honor recipients buried at the cemetery.

In 1990, Congress passed a resolution that declared March 25 National Medal of Honor Day to honor those who went above and beyond the call of duty, putting their lives on the line for their countrymen.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award a member of the military can earn. There are currently only 72 veterans alive today who have received this honor.

The Riverside National Cemetery is one of only four places in the United States that is designated as a Medal of Honor Memorial site, which was why the event was held at this location.

“We want to point out that, though we tried to get a living Medal of Honor recipient at this event, there are only 72 of them remaining,” said Cathy Ehlers-Metcalf, daughter of Staff Sergeant Walter Ehlers, who is buried at the cemetery. “Despite changing the date of our ceremony so more recipients could be free, we were not able to get someone this year, but we will continue to try.”

Families of other Medal of Honor recipients were in attendance, including Brenda Wylde, daughter-in-law of a Medal of Honor recipient.

“My father-in-law was a good Christian and a family man, and he was military through and through,” Wylde said. “This event was a touching and special event, getting to honor people who have been gone for a really long time and to continue to see and honor their ongoing legacies was  incredible.”

The keynote speaker during the ceremony was Randy Reeves under secretary of Veteran Affairs and a veteran himself, having served in the U.S. Air Force and Navy. 

Another notable speaker was Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), who serves as District 41’s representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“When I hear the stories of why these recipients got these awards, I am so humbled by their sacrifice and bravery,” Takano said. “It’s important the members of this community take the time to hear these stories. 

“Hearing these stories will make you think about your purpose in this world.”

Takano has been a strong advocate for veterans affairs.

An example of his dedication include serving as the current chairman of the House committee on Veterans Affairs in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

The ceremony ended with a rifle salute and a cover of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.”

Students interested in hearing more about the lives of Medal of Honor recipients can check out Netflix’s documentary series titled “Medal of Honor” (2018). 

The documentary recalls and recreates those heroic moments in the lives of some of America’s finest  countrymen.

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