West Virginia U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D) and Shelley Moore Capito (R) have introduced a resolution asking for a state funeral for the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient. The state funeral would not only recognize that man’s individual service and sacrifice, but would act as a final salute to the Greatest Generation and those who wore the uniform from 1941 to 1945, according to a news release.
There are only three living Medal of Honor recipients remaining from WWII, including Marion County native and Iwo Jima veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams, who is 95. Charles Coolidge, 97, of Tennessee, and Francis Currey, 93, of New York, are the other two surviving Medal of Honor recipients.
A state funeral is a seven to ten-day event, consisting of ceremonies and funeral processions in the home state of the veteran and in Washington D.C., where the honoree will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. While Congress can authorize the use of the rotunda, in order for the U.S. Military to make the arrangements for a state funeral, the President must call for one, a news release said.
“This may be our last chance to come together as a country and salute the Greatest Generation with our nation’s highest honor. The women and men, like Woody Williams, who answered the call to service during WWII ensured that our democracy and our way of life prevailed. Their sacrifices and the hardships they have endured allow the rest of us to enjoy the unique freedoms that make this country the best on earth,” said Senator Manchin.
“Providing a state funeral for the last surviving WWII Medal of Honor recipient reflects the respect and gratitude we owe to an entire generation of veterans who have given so much to our country,” Senator Capito said.
“This bill for WWII State Funeral is of utmost importance to West Virginians and Americans alike as we must never forget our national treasures such as Medal of Honor Recipient “Woody” Williams and so many others that saved our country and secured our freedoms. This State Funeral would honor military service, and educate younger generations about the sacrifices of Americans in World War II, while providing a final salute to the Greatest Generation,” said Brent Casey, Director of the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.
“As we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day, nothing would be more fitting as the passage of this bill out of the U.S. Senate, encouraging the President to designate a single State Funeral for the last surviving Medal of Honor Recipient from World War II. This State Funeral would bring our country together for a final salute to all 16 million men and women from the Greatest Generation who wore our nation’s uniform from 1941 to 1945,” said Bill McNutt, Cofounder and Chairman of the State Funeral for World War II Veterans Organization.