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Medal of Honor Day
March 25, 2023 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
The celebration will begin with a documentary film, which will explain the origins of the Medal of Honor, and it’s inception during the American Civil War. Guest speaker Eury J. Cantillo is the Curator of Science and Technology at the U.S. Army Ordnance TSF at Fort Lee, Virginia and at 1:00 p.m. he will offer visitors a presentation on the history and evolution of the actual Medal of Honor and the changes in recipient requirements over time. A special display of multiple Medals of Honor will show the changes in designs and the medals for each branch of service being the: U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy throughout the day. One of the medals displayed was awarded to U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Louis Cukela. Cukela is one of only 19 two-time Medal of Honor recipients who received both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy Medal of Honor for his actions in World War I during the Battle of Belleau Woods in France.
Afterwards, a special Breakthrough Battlefield tour will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the Park’s Battlefield Center. There, visitors will begin the tour by seeing artifacts from two Medal of Honor recipients, Captain Charles Gould of the 5th Vermont Infantry and Sergeant John Ezra Buffington, 6th Maryland Infantry. Buffington’s own Medal of Honor is among the artifacts to be viewed. Tour attendees will then tour the Breakthrough Battlefield with the Park’s Senior Interpretive Ranger, Jim Partain who will share the stories of both men at the actual citation locations along with other Petersburg Campaign Medal of Honor recipients.
The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest award for military valor in action. In over 150 years since it’s inception, the Medal of Honor has been awarded to just 3,535 and only 65 are living recipients today. The standards to award the Medal itself have changed since the Civil War and, over time the design has also changed several times. Although some changes have taken place over the years, the Medal has always embraced the values of bravery, courage, sacrifice and integrity.
Eury Cantillo began a museum career shortly after college graduation, first working as a historic interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, later sailing a replica of one of Columbus’ ships through the Panama Canal, and then working as the Outreach Coordinator at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA. At the height of the war in Iraq, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. Cantillo served as an Artillery Officer in the 3rd Infantry Division, which included a 15 month deployment to the city of Ramadi in Western Iraq. In addition he lead a variety of supply convoys through the desert, and finally ended the deployment as a Battery Fire Direction Officer involved in the field testing of the Excalibur GPS guided artillery round. He then used the GI Bill to earn a Master’s degree in education, and began working for the National Park Service at the Lexington and Concord battlefield, the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings, and the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. He then worked as the Director of Education for the U. S. Navy’s Submarine Force museum, moved to U.S. Army Center of Military History as the Curator at the Army’s Aviation museum before becoming the Curator of the Army’s Ordnance Training Support Facility, the first operational TSF in the system.
This special event is supported by the U.S. Army Museums and TSF at Fort Lee, Virginia and the Virginia War Museum located in Newport News, Virginia. Strosnider Chevrolet is a proud sponsor of the Medal of Honor Day celebration.