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American Forces Press Service
January 23, 2001

Medal of Honor recipients attend inauguration

By By Linda D. Kozaryn 
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2001 -- Every four years, the land of the free and home of the brave invites the bravest of all to attend the presidential inauguration here.

This year, nearly 100 of the 150 living Medal of Honor recipients attended the inauguration of America's 43rd president, George W. Bush. Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam traveled from their homes across America for the ceremony.

"I've been coming all these years since Eisenhower's inauguration and they've all been wonderful," said Medal of Honor recipient Nicholas Oresko. "But today was one of the greatest because the president and the vice president and the secretary of defense all came by and shook our hands. It was wonderful, unexpected excitement."

More than a half century ago, Oresko, of Tenafly, N.J., was an Army master sergeant with the 94th Infantry Division in Germany. In a one-man attack, and despite serious wounds, he rushed two German bunkers, killing 12 German soldiers, making it possible for his company to obtain its objectives with minimum casualties.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars escorted Oresko and other Medal of Honor recipients while they were in the capital. 

"By tradition," Cheney told the heroes, "this is always the first event the president and vice president visit before we begin the round of inaugural balls, and that's for a very good reason."  

"Their mission and our mission is to keep the peace," Bush said. "The way to do so is to make sure our military is highly trained and well paid." The chain of command must ensure "that our soldiers are fully prepared to fight and
win war, and therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place."


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