Hall of Heroes:American Jewish Recipients of The Medal of Honor
Past National Commander, Neil Goldman
During the Board Meeting in August 1997 of the National Museum of Military History (NMAJMH), Board members Al Selnick of California and Max Wachtel of Ohio recommended that the NMAJMH prepare plans to create an exhibition which would feature those Jewish members of the American Military who are recipients of our Nation's highest commendation for heroism in battle, the Medal of Honor. The board approved this recommendation unanimously.
The Museum's Curator, Sandy Cohen, immediately began the research that was absolutely vital in determining just who these recipients of the Medal are, the place of their combat heroism and the citations that confirmed their receipt of the Medal of Honor. This process was time consuming and detailed. We ran into many roadblocks along the way but Sandy persevered and finally came up with the names of thirteen heroic Jews whose receipt of the medal was absolutely certain.
Then the planning for the actual exhibition began. This included both the curatorial concept and design of the exhibit and plans to raise the funds necessary to mount it. Unfortunately our curator and collections manager both went on to other professional positions which obviously upset our planned timing of the exhibit originally set for fall 2000. We were disappointed, but our determination to create and complete this testimonial to the bravest among us was never compromised. We hired both a curator and collections manager and our implementation of our plans proceeded full bore.
Our permanent exhibition entitled The Hall of Heroes is now complete. Its scheduled dedication date is August 28, 2001. It contains the names, pictures and bios of the thirteen Jewish recipients of the Medal of honor plus the names of the almost four hundred Jewish heroes who are recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross or the Air force Cross. The exhibit is unique in design. It features new colors, new systems of display and interactive video and audio equipment playing programs about the Medal and some of the people who are honored.
The Hall of Heroes is truly a collegial effort. It is completely paid for. Over 90% of the funds raised came from members and echelons of the Jewish War Veterans family of organizations. Donations ranged from $5 to over $10,000. You can view a listing of these donors elsewhere in this catalogue. I must thank a few people who gave of themselves wholeheartedly and spared no effort to make certain that the Hall of Heroes became a permanent exhibition we would all treasure. These include Past Museum President Florence Levine, Museum exhibits chairman. Her wise and calm council, her encyclopedic knowledge of the Museum and her bulldog determination were invaluable. Larry Richardson and his Museum operations staff were outstanding in their support of all the efforts expended in the development and implementation of the Hall of Heroes plans.. This applies particularly to Crystal Smith whose knowledge of every item of recorded information of the exhibits activity was crucial and Dom Endoso who kept a detailed record of all exhibit income and disbursements. Pamela Feltus, Curator and Jon West-Bey, Collections Manager spent long and sometimes frustrating hours making sure that the exhibit looked exactly as planned. It does. In addition to all this they had to put up with a demanding and impatient President. I thank all of them.
We are proud of the exhibition. It will permanently serve as a symbol of Jewish heroic service within the American Military. The Hall of Heroes is permanent but not static. As laws change, as reviews of wartime records proceed, we are sure to add to the numbers of both the Medal of Honor and the Crosses recipients. Come to see the Hall of Heroes and the other exhibits on the Walls of the NMAJMH. You will be pleased and educated.