GETTYSBURG, PA.The autograph hounds waiting expectantly in a hotel lobby weren’t drawn by actors, musicians or politicians, but by a few dozen men whose rare and distinguished achievements have earned them the nation’s highest military honor.
Nearly half of the 79 living recipients of Medal of Honor are attending the gathering in Gettysburg, where some of its first recipients fought 150 years ago.
The Medal of Honor Society annual convention gives the public an opportunity to collect the signatures of the men who have been honored by Congress for risking their lives beyond the call of duty in combat, and dozens of people waited Thursday for them to return from a luncheon at a nearby farm once owned by President Dwight Eisenhower.
Dave Loether, 62, a computer analyst from Pittsburgh, was hoping to add to the 55 signatures of Medal of Honor recipients he has collected on a U.S. Army flag. Loether knows many of their faces by sight — and their stories by heart.
“It’s a piece of cloth with some ink on it — it’s worthless,” Loether said. “On the other hand, it’s priceless.”
The men who hold the highest honor of valor in the land – the recipients of the Medal of Honor – are not known for easily capitulating, but on Thursday they gave in to the demands of their stature to grant admirers a piece of themselves for posterity – their autographs.
Mary Edwards Walker, a Union Army surgeon in the Civil War, the only woman to receive the medal, died in 1919.
Approximately 48 recipients of the Medal of Honor made themselves available to appease the yearning of fans for autographs, handshakes and photos at the second day of the weeklong Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s convention in Gettysburg.