The Medal of Valor is the highest honor bestowed upon a private citizen or employee of Riverside County may receive. For the past 19 months, the Medal of Valor has been an award authorized by the Board of Supervisors.
It is Riverside County’s highest honor bestowed upon a citizen or employee. The State of California decorates it soldiers, airmen, and public safety personnel with its Medal of Valor on a regular basis in prestigious ceremonies.
In most cases the decoration is presented by the sitting governor. Like Riverside County, the state’s highest honor is the Medal of Valor. Of course the United States of America bestows the Medal of Honor on its military personnel for conspicuous gallantry in action. It is the highest award a solider, sailor, marine, or airman may receive. Most law enforcement and fire agencies have authorized their own Medal of Valor to present to law enforcement and fire personnel.
This, too, is public safety’s highest award.
What makes the Riverside County Medal of Valor slightly different from most of the Valor awards presented today is that it recognizes the heroics of the average citizen. How many times do we read a Facebook post, Twitter, or Instagram telling us of a private citizen that risks their life to save another?
When we see the news on cable stations —CNN, Fox, MSNBC, or any of our local channels — we often see video from a citizen cell phone that depicts a neighbor rushing into a burning house and saving a baby. Or how about the citizens that pull another person out of a burning car? What about the store owner that stops a robbery in progress by an armed suspect?
Just about every day we can read, listen, or hear about a hero who stepped up to put his or her life on the line. Most of these heroes aren’t paid to run into that burning home, dive into the ice-cold water, a rushing river or canal, and rescue a drowning victim in freezing water. They pry open a door of that burning car or truck and rescue the driver or passengers.
We have friends, neighbors and strangers saving lives all around us. Often times these heroes are not seen on television, radio, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or any other form of social media. They save a life or two and just go back to work or home and never mention what they did to save a life while putting their own life on the line.
We live in a great county, we have great people around us every day. When danger confronts these heroes they charge into action. They don’t wait for police or firefighters. The folks willing to put their lives on the line have earned the gratitude of those they save or tried to rescue. They should feel good about what they did.
The Medal of Valor in Riverside County has a brief history. Supervisor V. Manuel Perez sought and received unanimous approval for the medal and award on Jan. 23, 2018. His colleagues Kevin Jeffries, John Tavaglione, Chuck, Washington, and Marion Ashley all supported the creation of this award to recognize the bravery and valor of the average man, women, or young adults that saves lives at the risk of their own.
If you know a Riverside County resident or visitor that put his or her life on the line and saved a life you can step up and nominate them for The Medal of Valor. Applications to nominate that hero are available online by clicking here. You’ll learn about the requirements for the award and that all federal and state military personnel are also eligible.
- Medal of Valor: Tom Freeman