It was a room filled with real-life heroes of all ages.

The Madison County Military Heritage Commission held the first-ever social Thursday for members of the Madison County Military Hall of Heroes at the Ledges of Huntsville. Veterans from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan gathered to break bread and discuss the commission’s goals.

“The stories in this room are incredible,” Bob Marshall, president of the Madison County Military Heritage Commission, said.

More than just an honor society, these heroes have a mission – and this group knows a little about executing successful missions. The members routinely travel to area schools to speak with youth about their experiences, fulfilling one of the tenants of the commission to promote interest in the study and preservation of military history heritage. It is a goal with urgency, as time stops for no one and the living history of WWII and Vietnam is closing with the shrinking numbers of living veterans.

For this reason, the commission has teamed with local longtime journalist Tom Kennemer on the “Hall of Heroes Oral History” project. What makes this project unique is that it is filmed at Lee High School and the production team consists solely of students in the school. The members’ stories as told to Kennemer are recorded for future generations to hear their experiences in their own words.

Also not immune to the marching of time are the Hall of Heroes display cabinets located in the Madison County Courthouse downtown. The cabinets, which display a roster of the Hall of Heroes inductees, and also decorations, service medals and awards, need substantial repair and upgrades. Marshall said anyone interested in donating to the cabinet fund can visit their website and donations are tax-deductible.

The commission accepts nominees for the Hall of Heroes every year with the criteria that the service member received a valor award and that he or she was a native, entered service or current resident for three years of Madison County. The organization welcomes nominees from all branches and all eras in their mission to recognize and commemorate members of the community who went above and beyond in their service to the nation.

“In the moment of danger, the Hall of Heroes moved forward and saved lives at the peril of their own,” Marshall said.

The Hall of Heroes will induct six new members as part of the community’s Veterans Week celebration in November. The induction ceremony takes place during the Veterans Dinner on Nov. 10 at the Von Braun Center.

For more information on the Madison County Military Heritage Commission and the Hall of Heroes, visit www.mcmhc.org.

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