The Fourth of July is a wonderful time for Americans to celebrate our country’s independence from Great Britain centuries ago. Our freedoms and rights are among the best in the world, and we’ve enjoyed a mostly peaceful existence since our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. The 4th is also an excellent opportunity to remember the efforts of a war hero who hails from right here in Western New York.
David Bellavia was recently awarded the Medal of Honor by President Trump for valor displayed in the Iraq War. The Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, has been bestowed on 66 other Western New Yorkers and on four other Iraq War veterans. Mr. Bellavia, however, is the only living recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in the Iraq War.
The day Mr. Bellavia turned 29, he and his platoon were seeking insurgents in the stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq. They entered a home in the city and immediately came under fire from insurgents hiding behind a barricade and another shooting from a window. Seeing that his comrades were trapped, Mr. Bellavia engaged the insurgents on his own, and each serviceman was able to escape.
As President Trump stated while he placed the Medal of Honor around Mr. Bellavia’s neck: “David exemplifies the same warrior ethos that gave his grandfather and all of the heroes of Normandy the strength to defeat evil.”
President Abraham Lincoln created the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. Since then, the award has been bestowed on almost 3,400 soldiers.
After receiving the Medal of Honor, Mr. Bellavia expressed gratitude for his military experience and took no credit for saving the lives of his entire platoon: “The entire thing is—I can’t even comprehend it. But again, I just want to thank the Army for giving me purpose and meaning and direction. And it’s an absolute honor to serve in the U.S. military and to serve with those fine young men you saw on that stage today.”
Thank you, Mr. Bellavia. And thank you to every hero who made sure our independence was never taken away.