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Tampa Bay area to host 2019 Medal of Honor convention

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society (CMOHS) Thursday selected the Tampa Bay area as the host community for its 2019 Convention, honoring Medal of Honor recipients and their families.

This is the first time the weeklong event, taking place in October 2019, will be held in Tampa.

“Tampa Bay’s strong military tradition coupled with our outstanding vacation venues, cemented Tampa’s position as the host of this prestigious event,” said Ed Miyagishima, president and CEO of the 2019 Tampa Bay Medal of Honor Convention. “We’re humbled to be able to roll out the red carpet and the white sands of Tampa Bay to honor these outstanding individuals and their families as only this region can.”

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest and rarest military honor, bestowed by the president in the name of Congress on deserving members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against the enemy of the United States.”

“We’re thrilled to select Tampa Bay as the host of the 2019 Convention,” said Medal of Honor Recipient and President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Thomas Kelley. “Tampa’s unique military footprint, coupled with its spectacular beaches and activities will serve as the ideal backdrop to honor and celebrate Medal of Honor recipients and their families.”

The Medal of Honor Convention, the annual gathering of Medal of Honor recipients, was created to honor the awardees and their families. Highlights of the week will include an official public welcome, reunion events, book signings, school events and autograph sessions, and the black-tie Gala.

“We recognize members of the military, veterans and their families as valued members of our community,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “We could not be more proud that Ronald Ray, a graduate of the University of Tampa, and Baldomero Lopez, Tampa native, are both recipients of the Medal of Honor and would be honored to celebrate their accomplishments as well as those of all of the other Medal of Honor recipient’s right here in Tampa.”

The Medal of Honor families will be special honorees during the convention. According to Miyagishima, “We will make sure that there are numerous family-friendly events. These are the individuals who have sacrificed and supported the Medal of Honor recipients over the years, so it is important that we express our gratitude and make it special for them, as well.”

In Tampa, an educational outreach campaign will be implemented in area schools to promote patriotism and character, special assets personified by the Medal of Honor. A special curriculum will be created for teachers to utilize throughout the area and guest speakers will be available to visit local schools.

“We are especially excited by the prospect of a lasting legacy for Tampa Bay in the form of a curriculum that can be used year after year to educate our students about the character attributes of Medal of Honor recipients,” said retired United States Army Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell, who serves as an adviser to the Convention and has served as the president of CMOHS. “As a culmination to the convention, we will select a local student to receive the newly-created Medal of Honor Scholarship and look forward to partnering with local schools for other exciting learning opportunities.”

Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base is expected to play a significant role during the convention. MacDill is currently home to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), the 6th Air Mobility Wing and nearly 30 other tenant units.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was formed in 1958 under President Dwight Eisenhower to protect, uphold and preserve the dignity and honor of the medal at all times and on all occasions. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Convention and general meeting, held annually at different host communities across the country, serves:

– To further the bond of brotherhood and camaraderie among all living recipients of the Medal of Honor.

– To remember in reverence and respect those who received the Medal of Honor posthumously, and those who are now deceased.

– To foster patriotism and to inspire and stimulate our youth to become better citizens of our country.

– To recognize and award patriotic Americans who promote and perpetuate the principles upon which our nation was founded through their life’s work.

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