National Medal of Honor Day

Kris Britt and Chris

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Britt Slabinski (center) flank by Kris (left) and Chris (right)

Today is National Medal of Honor Day, and if you haven’t seen the American Battlefield Trust’s latest edition of Hallowed Ground, which focuses on the Congressional Medal of Honor, you need to check it out. Thanks to my longtime partner in crime, ECW co-founder Kris White, who was heavily involved in the project, I had the chance to tag along behind the scenes for a small part of it. It was a humbling experience.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is, according to the MoH’s official website, “the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.” As part of its project, the Trust spoke with several living recipients of the medal and asked them to reflect on the experiences of several Civil War-era recipients. One of those veterans was Britt Slabinski, the most recent recipient of the medal.

Britt received the Medal of Honor in May of 2018 for action in Afghanistan in March of 2004. You can read his full citation here. The Trust brought him to Fredericksburg to walk the field at the Slaughter Pen Farm. During the battle of Fredericksburg, nineteen soldiers earned Medals of Honor; five of them earned those medals at the Slaughter Pen, on the battlefield’s south end.

While walking the ground, Britt shared the story of one of the Medal of Honor recipients who fought at the Slaughter Pen, George Maynard of the 13th Massachusetts. Maynard “voluntarily returned to the front under a severe fire” to help a “wounded and helpless comrade” who had “been left on the skirmish line.” Maynard retrieved the man and carried him to safety.

Britt and Film Crew

Britt, in the sun room at Stevenson Ridge’s Riddick House, recounts his story for the film crew.

Britt, who had also gone back into an active combat zone to retrieve a fallen comrade, related his own story to Maynard’s experience. It is a compelling story, and I strongly urge you to take a few minutes and watch the video below in which he recounts it. The great folks at WideAwake Films produced the video, filmed at the Slaughter Pen Farm as well as at Stevenson Ridge. (That’s how I got to be involved.)

What impressed me most about Britt’s story wasn’t so much the high drama and incredible courage involved but his deep humility. The medal, he said repeatedly, “was for all of us.” It was not just an honor but a profound responsibility, and the sincerity and gravity with which Britt approached that responsibility moved me.

Check out the full Medal of Honor coverage in the Trust’s award-winning magazine, Hallowed Ground. Then, take a few minutes and watch Britt’s video, as well as videos featuring two other living Medal of Honor recipients:

I offer my thanks to Kris and the Trust for including me in a very small way in this project, with a special shout-out to editor Mary Koik. I also offer my thanks to the vets, especially Britt, for their service. It was incredible honor to meet him—one I’m deeply grateful for.

Kris and Britt

Kris and Britt talk Civil War artillery

 

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4 Responses to National Medal of Honor Day

  1. Larry De Maar says:

    Thank you for linking to these wonderful videos. I had the privilege of attending a Medal of Honor convention in Chicago in 2009 and met 45 Medal of Honor recipients. Every one of them echoed what Britt Slabinski said that the Medal “was for all of us”, each one was humble and kind. Woody Williams told me that he could not get his face low enough in the ground as he crept up to each pill box. He told me that the Japanese concentrated on him and their bullets were hitting the tank on his back but bounced off because they hit at such a sharp angle. Otherwise, his tank would have blown up.

  2. Chris Kolakowski says:

    Second what Larry said. It is amazing how humble and appreciative the recipients are.

    Some of the Medal of Honor citations are some of the most incredible stuff you’ll read.

  3. Todd Berkoff says:

    Just for clarification, the award’s official name is the Medal of Honor, not Congressional Medal of Honor. Congress has nothing to do with the award, besides from the medal being awarded by the President “in the name of Congress.”

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