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Building tributes: Honoring medal recipients on National Medal of Honor Day

Trimmel Gomes

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(Florida News Connection) As the nation observes National Medal of Honor Day, facilities in Florida and Texas are under construction to serve as perpetual memorials commemorating the heroic actions of recipients for their valor and sacrifice.

In Sebring, Florida, a memorial honoring the 24 recipients of the Medal of Honor from the Sunshine State is underway, with plans to celebrate 18 of them posthumously.

Mike Borders, chairman of the Florida Medal of Honor Memorial, anticipates the completion next year, featuring a botanical garden showcasing 90 percent native Florida plants, aiming to offer a memorable and inspiring experience for visitors.

"The second thing we want to do is educate our citizenry, primarily our youth, about the high cost of freedom," Borders explained. "Freedom is not free. Lots of men and women throughout our nation's history have died to preserve the freedoms that we hold dear."

Florida schools now mandate teaching about Medal of Honor Day. There are only 63 living recipients out of the more than 3,500.

In March 2025, Arlington, Texas will witness the opening of the National Medal of Honor Museum, paying homage to all the nation's heroes and their sacrifices.

Chris Cassidy, president and CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, is a retired Navy SEAL and former lead astronaut for NASA. Beyond getting people to visit and check out the memorabilia on display, he hopes learning will take place way beyond the museum's walls.

"Our goal is to really inspire the nation through stories of courage and sacrifice of Medal of Honor recipients," Cassidy stressed. "To do that, we've created a leadership institute largely focused on character development in K-12."

Cassidy underscored the museum's collaboration with the National Medal of Honor Griffin Institute, which integrated Medal of Honor-focused modules into the NFL's Character Playbook digital platform. The aim is to empower students to embody the values of courage, commitment and integrity.

Cassidy added he witnessed the effect firsthand during a visit to Westglades Middle School, where Miami Dolphins players and Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter left a lasting impression on students.