GAINESVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Giant flags, hanging between fire trucks on an overpass above Highway 114 in Southlake Wednesday, weren’t easy to ignore. Carols Sellers had to know more. “I went all the way around the block and came back because I saw the flag,” she said.
While Copeland and about five others gathered on the side of the road staring east, some of the country’s bravest, most selfless, most honored heroes were arriving at DFW. 14 Medal of Honor recipients were in the same place. They were gathering to go to Gainesville. For the last 12 years the city has brought them in, to interact, and inject patriotism, from a group who knows it best.
Hal Fritz was one of the first to walk off a plane to a cheering crowd. He received the medal for leading his platoon, even while wounded, in Vietnam. “I wish other states would be the same way in their appreciation of service men and women,” he said.
Another recipient, Jim Taylor, said the Gainesville gathering is different from the many black-tie receptions he often attends. “It’s just wonderful, they bring us down here, low key, relax, have a great time, and just meet wonderful people,” he said.
Extraordinary men of course, don’t make a trip to Gainesville in an ordinary way. The people perched on the 114 overpass watched in awe as a motorcade miles in length, made the 65 mile trek north.
Fire departments, police departments, more than 400 vehicles and motorcycles, all acted as escort. They recipients will be in Gainesville through Saturday, going to schools and meeting with residents.
Plans are underway to eventually give them their own park. Each year Gainesville also plants a small oak tree along a walking trail that cuts through town for each medal of honor recipient who visits.