Members of the Fort Lewis Chapter of the National Society Daughters of American Revolution made a major contribution to the Medal of Honor Memorial at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The wall was dedicated on March 25. The memorial recognizes Medal of Honor recipients who were born or died within the medical center’s support area according to Salem resident Cynthia “Ricki” McKinney, Fort Lewis DAR Regent from 2019-22. The Medal of Honor wall was McKinney’s project.
The Medal of Honor memorial includes replicas of three medals.
McKinney said she selected the wall as her projects after learning it was the dream of a retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams to place such a memorial in every VA hospital.
At the time of the planning, Williams was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient of World War II, who received the award for his action at Iwo Jima.
Allen Moye, associate director of the SVAMC, worked with Williams on the Medal of Honor Memorial at a WVA Veterans Medical Center and was determined to fulfill Woody’s dream here in Salem, McKinney explained.
Fort Lewis Chapter members worked hard over three years (during the worst of the pandemic) to raise more than $10,000 in support of this event. Due to issues with the pandemic, the opening of the memorial was delayed until March 24.
At the ceremony, a video of was shown of Williams, who died in June 2022.
McKinney said members of the chapter were proud to be a part of the ribbon cutting and even more proud that those men will have an honored place on the wall of the SVAMC. “They gave of themselves totally in defense of this nation so that we could enjoy the freedom we have today,” said Lt. Michael E. Thornton, retired US NAVY Seal and a Medal of Honor recipient. He was quoted as saying many of the recipients feel “The Medal of Honor does not belong to me. This medal belongs to every man and woman who as ever served their country. We were doing what we were trained to do. We were doing our job.”
Members of the Fort Lewis DAR said they hope those who pause at this memorial and reflect on these Honorees and their deeds will keep these memories alive. In the words of Daniel Webster “May their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.”
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