Veterans organizations offer support to bill that would honor last remaining WWII Medal of Honor recipient

West Virginia

Video above is from WDVM’s Spring 2020 Veterans Voices special, telling the story of Hershel Williams.

WASHINGTON (WBOY) — Leading veterans service organizations around the United States have pledged their support for legislation from Congresswoman Carol Miller, R–W.Va., H.Con.Res.10, Authorizing the use of the rotunda of the Capitol to honor the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient of the Second World War upon death.

According to a press release, this resolution would allow the last of the Medal of Honor recipients of World War II to lie in honor in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.  Currently, there are two remaining survivors—West Virginia native Hershel “Woody” Williams, whose heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima earned him the Medal of Honor, and Charles H. Coolidge of Tennessee, who received the Medal of Honor for his bravery during attacks at Hill 623 in France.

The groups supporting this legislation include the American Legion, American Veterans (AMVETS), Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

“I introduced this legislation in order to honor our Greatest Generation. The individuals who fought in World War II are the defenders of freedom and saved our world from its darkest hour. They answered the call to serve their country valiantly and deserve to be remembered for generations to come.”

Rep. Miller

H.Con.Res.10 has received bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives, the release explains. At the time of the bill’s introduction in January 2019, there were four living Medal of Honor recipients from World War II. This legislation has sat in the House Committee on Administration for the past 18 months, awaiting a vote.  Click here to read the full text of the bill.

Veterans organizations have released the following statements in support of the resolution.

“The time has come to prepare a final honor for our World War II service members, for which 472 Medals of Honor were awarded and only two of those recipients survive today. The American Legion respectfully asks that the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient receive a state funeral, to include lying in state in the Capitol rotunda, on behalf of the more than 16 million veterans of World War II. This legislation would authorize the use of the rotunda of the Capitol. The American Legion is proud to support this legislation and believes it would be a unifying event for the country honoring the legacy of all World War II veterans.”

James W. “Bill” Oxford, National Commander for The American Legion

“The Greatest Generation will forever remain the standard against which our military and its supporters are measured. Those who served during World War II showed us what uncommon valor looks like. For those who distinguished themselves through actions that merited the Medal of Honor, that valor wasn’t just uncommon; it was extraordinary. Someday, one individual will sit at the intersection of the Greatest Generation and Medal of Honor as the last living survivor. Honoring him in the rotunda of the Capitol is without question the least we can do to express our gratitude to him, and all those who embodied honor, courage, and commitment in defense of freedom.”

Sherman Gillums Jr., Chief Advocacy Officer at AMVETS National

“PVA supports H.Con.Res.10, because it provides for a fitting tribute to the nation’s last WWII veteran, and a way for the country to pay its respects to all of the men and women who served during that time.”

Heather Ansley, PVA Associate Executive Director for Government Relations

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