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‘They really feel the patriotism here’ | Congressional Medal of Honor Celebration returns to Knoxville

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society to honor Nikki Haley, Dennis Quaid and others during the award ceremony in September.
Medal of Honor Celebration
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 9:30 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2022 at 11:04 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Congressional Medal of Honor Celebration will return to Knoxville to honor individuals or organizations that have demonstrated incredible service, patriotism and values of courage.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was announced as one of the recipients of a Congressional Medal of Honor Society award.

Haley will be honored with the Patriot Award, the highest individual award given by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The award was created to honor those who have dedicated their work to freedom and the ideals of the society, according to society spokesperson Laura Mansfield.

“To understand the heart and soul of our country, look no further than the service and sacrifice of our military men and women,” said Haley. “Now, more than ever, we should honor these Medal of Honor Recipients for representing the best of America. I’m proud and humbled to join them this year at the Patriot Award Gala to honor their service.”

Dennis Quaid will be honored with the Bob Hope Award for Entertainment and the Distinguished Citizen Award will be given to Dr. Timothy Miller.

The Bob Hope Award for Entertainment is reserved for performers who have portrayed the U.S. military in a positive light through literature or film.

“Quaid starred in ‘The Right Stuff’ and will portray President Ronald Reagan in the upcoming film based on best-selling biography, ‘The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,’ by Paul Kengor,” said Mansfield.

The Distinguished Citizen Award is bestowed upon someone who has dedicated their work to freedom and society’s ideals.

“Miller is a retired plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and professor emeritus and former chief of plastic surgery at UCLA Health, as well as a Bronze Star recipient for his service in Vietnam,” said Mansfield.

The veteran was the chief reconstruction surgeon for Operation Mend, a program that provides free plastic surgery to wounded veterans who fought in the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“These are the individuals who bare our nation’s military highest honor. And for them to collectively come together and say we want to recognize you for your service to our country is a pretty profound statement,” Chairman of the 2022 Medal of Honor Celebration, Joe Thompson said.

The Patriot Award Gala is scheduled for Sept. 10.

“The Medal of Honor Celebration is an annual gathering for recipients of the United States’ highest military award for valor,” said Mansfield. “September will mark the second time the event has been held in Knoxville—a two-time host city designation shared only with Boston.”

“It makes Knoxville shine. When they come here and they see the prominence of the event, and they see what we do in Knoxville and they’re just in awe. They really feel the patriotism here,” Thompson said.

The first time Knoxville hosted the event was in 2014 and actor Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, will be the master of ceremonies.

The society was chartered by Congress in 1958 to create unity between recipients and to preserve the ideals of the Medal of Honor.

There are 66 living recipients of the medal.

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