Sharlot Hall exhibit recognizes Arizona history with Medal of Honor
PRESCOTT – More than 160 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military recognition, have ties to Arizona.
An outside reception was held Saturday, May 21, for the opening of a new exhibit honoring those recipients at Prescott’s Sharlot Hall Museum.
“First and foremost, the Medal of Honor is about courage,” said keynote speaker Prescott Mayor Col. Harry Oberg (USArmy, retired). Oberg shared vignettes of medal recipients and defined what makes a military member eligible to receive it.
Special guest Alice Mendoza, widow of SSgt. Manuel Mendoza, a 1944 Medal of Honor recipient, participated in the exhibit’s ceremonial ribbon cutting along with Col. Fred Cone (USMC, retired), Col. Oberg and Fred Veil, executive director of the museum.
Tours were led through the exhibit, which includes visual media-panels designed by Ken Leja, the museum’s media and marketing manager, a five-minute movie tribute and several key artifacts.
Among the displays is a special piece for Sharlot Hall - one that inspired Veil in the development of the exhibit.
A few years ago, Veil was shown a well-worn star-shaped piece of brass dug up by someone using a metal detector outside of Miami. Engraved on it was: “The Congress to Private Chiquito, Indian Scout.”
This small piece of history belonged to one of the 11 Apache scouts who were recognized with the Medal of Honor for their actions in the late-1800s during the Indian Wars of the Arizona Territory, according to a museum press release.
“It’s the only one found to have survived the years,” said Veil, “and while the qualifying standards for receiving the Medal of Honor have changed over the course of decades, these extraordinary men have, in their own time, performed above and beyond the call of duty.”
“From the discovery of that planchet in the desert, the exhibit was developed to recognize the Medal of Honor recipients with direct ties to Arizona, including the 11 Apache scouts. It features the 156 honorees bestowed the medal for actions in the Territory, as well as five men born in Arizona and seven born elsewhere, but raised in Arizona, and all honored for actions on foreign soil,” according to the release.
The exhibit’s opening reception included music by the 108th Army National Guard band of Phoenix, a presentation of colors by the Granite Mountain Young Marines and an invocation by CMSgt. Bob Hanson (USAF, retired). Museum volunteers provided refreshments.
Many military organizations were on hand for the ceremony: The Marine Corps League - Copper State Detachment 906, Association of the United States Army - Arizona Territorial Chapter 7202, Korean War Veterans Association - H. Edward Reeves Chapter 311, Veterans of Foreign Wars - Buckey O’Neil Post 541, Korean War Veterans Association - West Valley Chapter and Ernest A. Love American Legion Post 6.
“Arizona and the Medal of Honor – Above and Beyond!” opened May 22 and will close permanently after Veterans Day in November. Sharlot Hall Museum is at 415 W. Gurley St., two blocks west of the courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott.