Honoring Our ‘Hometown Heroes’

By Senator Patty Ritchie
Since its creation in 1861, more than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded to some of our nation’s bravest Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

Next week, William Swenson, a former Army captain and Fort Drum soldier, will join the ranks of these brave men and women.

On October 15, Capt. Swenson will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery during combat in Afghanistan in 2009 at a special ceremony being held at the White House.

Capt. Swenson is being recognized for his courageous actions while serving as an embedded trainer and mentor with the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Kunar Province in northeastern Afghanistan on September 8, 2009. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal, Capt. Swenson retired from the military on February 1, 2011. He now lives in Seattle.

As the nation pauses to recognize Capt. Swenson, I too will honoring his bravery by featuring him in my  “Hometown Heroes,” exhibit; a traveling tribute to recipients of the nation’s highest military honor now on display at museums, libraries and other locations throughout Central and Northern New York.

In addition to Capt. Swenson, my “Hometown Heroes” display features several St. Lawrence and Oswego County Civil War heroes, a group of little known Jefferson County Medal of Honor recipients who served at Madison Barracks at the turn of the century,  and a former member of the 10th Mountain Division from World War II.

The exhibit, which is marking the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Medal of Honor by President Abraham Lincoln, is the second in a series that began last year.

The display will be featured at a number of locations across Central and Northern New York including the following:

Oswego County

September 30-October 11: Williamstown Library

October 15-25: Central Square Library

October 28-November 18: Oswego City Library

November 12-22: Mexico Public Library

Jefferson County

October 3-23: Fort Drum USO

October 23-November 6: Jefferson Community College

November 7-20: Salmon Run Mall

November 21-December 4: Carthage Area Hospital

December 5-18: Carthage Free Library

St. Lawrence County

Sept. 30-Oct. 21: Ogdensburg Public Library

Oct. 22-Nov. 15: E. J. Noble Hospital in Gouverneur

Nov. 16-Dec. 7: Waddington Hepburn Public Library

Dec. 7-Jan. 2: Hermon Hepburn Library

One in four of America’s 3,400 Medal of Honor recipients nationally are from New York State and you can learn more about many of these brave individuals by visiting my “Hometown Heroes” display or viewing it online at www.ritchie.nysenate.gov

In addition to my “Hometown Heroes” exhibit, I have also introduced legislation to pay tribute to these recipients by naming some of  the state’s 20,000 bridges and overpasses in their honor.

The “Hometown Heroes” exhibit is just one small way we recognize the contributions of Capt. Swenson and the many other brave men and women who have acted valiantly in the name of our country.

I encourage you to take the time to view this display to learn more about the courageous individuals who have put their lives on the line in the name of freedom and liberty.