North Texas celebrated Medal of Honor recipients with a motorcade escort from DFW Airport to Gainesville where the city annually hosts the nation’s most highly honored military heroes.
“Gainesville is the only city in America to host Medal of Honor recipients annually,” Tommy Moore, Medal of Honor host city program president, said. “This is our 18th year to bring them to Gainesville to have them meet with students, community members, and have people meet real life heroes.”
Twenty Medal of Honor recipients arrived at DFW Airport on Wednesday, April 10. A motorcade of about 750 people, led by law enforcement, escorted the Medal of Honor recipients to the heart of Gainesville.
After traveling in the rear of a pickup truck, Morgan Moore, executive director of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, said participating in the motorcade was an emotional experience.
“I could see for miles behind us, and there were motorcycles everywhere,” Morgan said. “It gives me chills thinking about it. It just makes you cry.”
While the procession temporarily shut down highways, Morgan said onlookers had positive responses.
“[Other drivers] may be mad at first, then they see us and put their hands over their hearts,” Morgan said. “People will stop on the side of the road and wave at us.”
Throughout the years, Gainesville has honored 56 of the 74 living Medal of Honor recipients.
Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan has attended the event the past two years.
“We’ve really enjoyed coming here,” McCloughan said. “We don’t get treated much better anyplace else than we get treated here in Gainesville.”
The celebration involved a tree dedication, patriot dinner, parade and book signing. Each event provides the community a chance to meet the recipients and hear their stories.
The Medal of Honor recipients also visited Robert E. Lee Intermediate School and Gainesville High School to speak with students.
“That’s one of their favorite events,” Morgan said. “They love talking to kids.
“When we first started, it was a handful of recipients. We would just hang out with them, and it was very casual. Now, it’s turned into a huge event.”
Volunteer Bernice Spaeth said Gainesville is honored to host the recipients each year.
“We’re proud to have them every year,” Spaeth said. “[We] thank everybody for coming out to join us and hope everybody will come [next year.]”
“Overall, it was extremely successful,” Morgan said. “We’re already looking forward to next year.”
Written by Kayla Henson