Military members and their families filed into a Denton hotel ballroom, where the first-ever induction ceremony of the Texas Veterans Hall of Fame was held Saturday evening.
A total of 20 Medal of Honor recipients from Texas were inducted during the ceremony at SpringHill Suites by Marriott Denton. Retired Master Sgt. Gary Steele, president of the Texas Veterans Hall of Fame, said the event was designed to recognize and honor the service and accomplishments of Texans who served in the military and to include their living relatives.
Steele, a 21-year veteran of the Air Force, said that a component of Saturday’s ceremony and a focus of their organization includes preserving the stories of Texas veterans to educate future generations.
“We wanted to create a hall of fame that would provide a venue to educate the public,” Steele said during the event. “We also wanted to honor and recognize Texas veterans for their service and sacrifice while preserving Texas history.”
Although the organization inducts its members under four separate categories — Valor, Honor, Support and Patriot Medallion — the event on Saturday focused on the Valor component, Steele said. While the Veterans Hall of Fame plans to open the other two categories for consideration next year, he said he could not think of a better fit for the Valor category than Medal of Honor recipients.
Of the 20 inductees who were honored Saturday, the living relatives of six of the inductees were in attendance for the ceremony, Steele said.
Eastland resident Michelle Young, 54, who attended Saturday with her family in honor of her brother, Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith, said she can remember when her brother left for Vietnam but never came back. Although her brother was killed May 8, 1970, she said his actions led to the safety of at least 25 other members of his platoon.
Young said her brother was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, with his medal presented to their mother at the White House by Vice President Spiro Agnew on May 8, 1971. While Keith’s life might have been short, Young said she considers it an honor to carry on his story.
“He is a hero to all of us because he fought for our country,” Young said. “But it’s an honor because we get to represent him now.”
Princeton resident Nadene Murphy, 88, who attended Saturday’s event in honor of her brother, Maj. Audie Murphy, said that she was initially surprised about the ceremony, but thankful that his service was still recognized after more than seven decades. Her brother was awarded the Medal of Honor for valorous actions at Holtzwihr, France, in World War II.
“I think that it’s wonderful that they are remembering him after all these years,” Nadene said of her brother, Audie, who died in 1971.
Toward the end of the event, Texas Hall of Fame Vice President Jere Delano closed the ceremony with a prayer as the colors were retired against the sound of taps — which was led by chaplain Bill Coburn, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 920 — echoing throughout the ballroom.