FW JWV hosts Arlington museum leaders
Photos: Michael Sudhalter
U.S. Air Force veteran Phil Kabakoff, the Jewish War Veterans Post #755 Commander, looks at a Medal of Honor during a presentation from the National Medal of Honor Museum on Oct. 29, 2023, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth.

The National Medal of Honor Museum will open in March 2025

By Michael Sudhalter

In 17 months, North Texans and visitors from across the United States will have an opportunity to learn about the most valiant of American military personnel. The National Medal of Honor Museum, which will be located near Globe Life Field in Arlington, is set to open March 25, 2025.

On Sunday morning, Oct. 29, United States Air Force Retired Colonel Mike Caldwell, the museum’s senior director for operations and veteran engagement, and Kristin Vandergriff, the museum’s director of development for North Texas, visited the Jewish War Veterans Fort Worth Post #755 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.

The meeting was set up by Laurin Baum, a Fort Worth citizen who served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1982.

“The opening of this museum means a lot to me as a veteran,” Baum said. “I also have two sons, a father and a father-in-law who served in the military.”

Museum leaders are traveling around the country sharing presentations about the museum.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat. There have been 40 million people who have served in the American military but fewer than 4,000 have earned the Medal of Honor. It was first created when President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law in 1861.

There are currently 65 Medal of Honor recipients living today, including eight in Texas and three in North Texas.

“There’s no better place than North Texas for this museum,” Caldwell said. “North Texas has opened its arms — and wallets — for this museum. You cannot match the patriotism of this area anywhere else.”

Caldwell began the presentation by sharing the story of U.S. Army Sergeant William Shemin, who was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1896. He earned a Medal of Honor for his service during World War I in France, in 1918.

Shemin is one of 18 Jews to have earned the Medal of Honor. Shemin’s hat and other artifacts will be on display at the museum.

“Sergeant Shemin is emblematic of what our museum will be about,” Caldwell said. “It will be a biography museum.”

Caldwell also spoke about U.S. Army Retired Colonel Jack Jacobs, another Medal of Honor recipient who is Jewish. Although many people may know Jacobs as a military analyst on NBC and MSNBC, he earned the Medal of Honor while serving in Vietnam in 1968. Jacobs protected both U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers during a Viet Cong attack.

“We will cover everything from birth, childhood, to why they joined the military, how they earned the Medal of Honor and what they did when they got home,” Caldwell said.

Not every Medal of Honor recipient made it home alive. Caldwell spoke about U.S. Army SFC Christopher Celiz, a South Carolina native who was killed in Afghanistan in 2018 while protecting fellow soldiers trying to take off in a helicopter. He was 32 years old when he was killed and became the first Jewish person to earn the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terrorism.

In October 2019, Arlington was selected out of 20 American cities to host the museum. In four years, the museum raised $240 million through individual and corporate donations and is looking to raise another $35 million.

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