Last week, on March 1, I attended a conference on integrating the military veterans into civilian society. This was the second segment and part of the “On Values” program series sponsored by the Center for American Values. The Center’s phone number is .719-543-9502. The Center’s website is www.americanvaluescenter.org.
I was invited to attend because one of the founding sponsors of the Center had read my book, The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How To Talk With Children About Values and thought, graciously, that I might have something of value to add to future programs sponsored by the Center.
I was honored, of course.
The Center was founded in 2010. It is located at 101 S. Main Street, Riverwalk Ste. 100, Pueblo, CO 81003.
The Center entrance is twenty feet or so from a lovely water way—I don’t know if the word ‘river’ is actually applicable—that meanders through Riverwalk development in this part of the downtown area, located about one mile west of Interstate 25.
The main meeting room is of modest size, perhaps ninety feet by thirty-five feet. But there is an aura of giants roaming the room. In large block letters on the north wall, placed over an entry to a smaller room, are the words: Honor, Integrity, Patriotism
Hung on the walls are photographs of each of the United States Medal of Honor recipients. I believe there are one hundred and twenty-seven, but I did not count them. The framed photographs of each recipient are black and white. They are stark. Below each photograph or superimposed on the lower part of a photograph is a personal statement by the recipient. The words are brief but are eloquent, the power of the words enhanced by their brevity. I share a few of them here.
“Our freedom, envied the world over, was attained at great personal sacrifice—we cannot allow it to wither away through apathy.”
Thomas J. Hudner
“The greatest gift I can leave to my children is their heritage.”
Einar H. Ingman
“Your character is built one decision and choice at a time. And what you build will determine whether or not you find happiness.”
Joseph K Kerrey
“No matter how difficult it seems at the time, it’s easier to do the right thing than to spend a lifetime regretting that you didn’t”
“There is no greater honor than the opportunity to serve and help preserve our freedom—it’s the essence of humanity.”
James E. Livingston
“Freedom is purchased with the loves of those magnificent people who value American liberty above all else.”
Jack H. Jacobs
“The Medal of Honor is proof that ordinary men and women have within them potential to challenge fate and literally change the course of history.”
Paul W. Bucha
“Freedom is something the protected take for granted.”
Ed W. Freeman
I was humbled by the words of these men. I stared at their eyes. I wished I could speak with them. I would have asked them to amplify on the themes of their words. I wondered then and I wonder now if the values they died for are still, by consensus, American values.