HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Imagine being surrounded by 30,000 North Vietnamese troops or strapping on a flamethrower and running into enemy fire from Japanese soldiers. Congressional Medal of Honor recipients not only lived to tell about it but are passing these kinds of stories on to our youth.
What could have remained just a chapter in U.S. history books has become a living lesson for these students. "We have a responsibility to go around and talk to groups about these sacrifices," Medal of Honor recipient, Bob Modrzejewski, told a crowd of students at Mid-Pacific Institute. Veterans also visited St. Louis school.
The recipients take part in a program – educating students in city after city about commitment, courage, and character. Navy Seal Lt. Tom Norris went behind enemy lines in Vietnam to save several comrades. Months later, in another mission, he was shot in the head. "Some memories you don't ever want to recall again, but they're there," explains Norris. "And (there are) those that you took part in and were worth remembering."
There's story after story of valor and bravery - amongst so much humility - because they'd do it all again to save a brother-in-arms.
I asked Modrzejewski, "Do you still remember a lot of it like it was yesterday?" He answered, "Like it was two minutes ago." The Marine Captain saved his entire unit in Vietnam - while avoiding getting nearly roasted by napalm. He thinks these experiences are important for students to know. "We try to instill, with the kids, the leadership aspect, the accountability aspect. We talk about reputations and responsibility."
Mid-Pacific sophomore Shari Tanaka feels grateful to have met the veterans."Because of them, we have freedom, and we get to live in this awesome United States!"
Sophomore Christian Arakaki adds, "It's once in a lifetime, to meet someone who has changed or saved someone's life, it's just a great experience."
It's an experience no history book could ever replicate.