Utah has long been at the forefront of honoring our veterans and sending forth heroes to serve. Men like World War II Medal of Honor recipient George Wahlen, a medic from Odgen who went into the thick of battle to treat 14 wounded Marines on Iwo Jima. Letters to the editor of newspapers have been the spark that ignited national ideas.
The organization of which I serve as the Utah State Chair, State Funeral for World War II Veterans, has launched a nationwide petition drive to convince the president to designate a state funeral in Washington, D.C., for the final remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. This state funeral will also provide special recognition for all 16 million who served. Where did this idea come from? Elementary school student Rabel McNutt was blessed to have Mr. Walter D. Ehlers as her godfather. He was the oldest holder of the Congressional Medal of Honor at the time of his death in 2014. He stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought in the hedgerows.
Prior to attending his funeral, Rabel watched videos of state funerals on YouTube. Rabel and her father, Bill McNutt, came up with the idea to convince the president to designate a state funeral in Washington, D.C., for the final remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, as a final salute to this hero. Four hundred seventy-two men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry in the Second World War. Today, only four remain. World War II veterans like Wahlen once lived all among us. They were our teachers, coaches, elected officials and served with us in local service organizations and businesses.
Today, the Greatest Generation has slipped back into the shadows of life. They deserve a great sendoff and a final salute from an appreciative nation. I am writing to encourage my fellow citizens to join us in fulfilling this mission.