Our Fourth of July celebration will have a much deeper meaning for Sondra and me this year. Why, you ask? FMCA’s Arkansas Travelers chapter asked us to attend their Medal of Honor rally in Gainesville, Texas, this past April.
Gainesville: A Medal of Honor Host City
Since 2001, this small town of 16,000 residents has been inviting all living U.S. Medal of Honor recipients to annual events to recognize and thank them for their service and their sacrifices for their country.
In fact, the Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for valor. It is presented by the U.S. president, in the name of Congress. By law, only U.S. service members who distinguish themselves “through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” can receive the medal. Only about 70 Medal of Honor recipients are still living today.
To learn more, check out the video of this year’s celebration in Gainesville:
Meeting a Hero
I had the privilege of meeting one of the Medal of Honor recipients, Allen J. Lynch, while attending a reception and book-signing event there. I bought Allen’s book Zero to Hero and had him sign it. Allen happens to be from my home state, Illinois.
I highly recommend Allen’s book. It is a great true story of how a young man who was bullied from an early age and had no direction in life joined the military and became a hero by doing what he felt he had to do to save some of his comrades during the Vietnam War.
Learning More about the Arkansas Travelers
Another part of attending the Arkansas Travelers rally was that I met and became friends with one of the South Central Area’s former national vice presidents, Darrell Gilliland, F153488, who lives in Gainesville. I became aware of Darrell when I was involved in forming the Great Lakes Area Association. Darrell and Jim Ammenheuser, A157201, supplied me with information that proved valuable to me in laying the foundation of FMCA’s Great Lakes Area. Previously, I had met Jim but not Darrell.
Plus, another highlight of the rally was meeting so many members of the Arkansas Travelers chapter. In speaking to their chapter members, I told them about our national effort to revitalize FMCA chapters and what we were doing to help chapters gain new members. I can proudly say that this chapter is growing and prospering. Many thanks to chapter president Gary Tharp, F433025, and co-rally hosts Mark and Joana Garro, F313380; Charlie and Gloria Adcock; and Lowell and Peggy Reeves, F331120, for allowing us to attend their rally. Overall, Sondra and I had a great time with the Arkansas Travelers.
So would you like to see photos and learn more about the activities in Gainesville? Please click here to check out the Arkansas Travelers chapter newsletter about the Medal of Honor week. Jeannie Carey, F384182, does a wonderful job as the newsletter editor for this thriving chapter!
Do you belong to an FMCA chapter? If so, is your chapter participating in any unique events this summer? Comment below – I’d love to hear!