Davidson Center to host heroes
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
By Patricia C. McCarter
Times Staff Writer patricia.mccarter@htimes.com

Foundation's gala to honor recipients will be held here next August

The largest single gathering ever of Medal of Honor recipients in the state will happen in Huntsville next August.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation has announced its annual gala will be held at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration on Aug. 28, 2010. At that black-tie event, the most exclusive group of military honorees will be lauded for their bravery.

Previous galas have been held on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, under Air Force One at the Ronald Reagan Library, and the Grand Beluga Whale Hall at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

A number of Medal of Honor recipients and Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation board members will be in attendance.

Less than 3,500 soldiers, sailors and Marines have received the award since President Abraham Lincoln initiated it in 1861. Only 95 recipients are alive today.

Madison County Assistant District Attorney Jay Town is the gala chairman. He said it's fitting that the gala is coming to Huntsville.

"Our community doesn't just fancy itself patriotic," said Town, who served 12 years in the Marines and is a member of the local Semper Fi Task Force. "We are all of the good things for which America stands. It is only natural that an event like this, honoring America's great values and her heroes, comes to Huntsville."

A news conference is scheduled at City Hall for Thursday morning to announce the particulars of the event. President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society is retired Air Force Col. Leo Thorsness, himself a Medal of Honor recipient, who lives in Madison with his wife Gaylee.

On the Friday before the Saturday gala, some Medal of Honor recipients will speak to local students about their experiences. Town said money made from the gala will go to education programs sponsored by the society.

To receive the Medal of Honor, a military member must have committed an act of "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of one's life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States."