War Hero To Kids: Grow Up
By Fran Spielman
As Medal of Honor winner Al Lynch sees it, the me-first generation is "one generation away" from losing the freedoms it takes for granted.
"If one generation fails to step up, radical Islam, Nazi -- whatever the next ism is will be here. The second we cannot field troops -- the second we have people who are so dedicated to themselves that they can't see the big picture, we're gone," he said.
Now Lynch will be able to admonish young people directly -- in a series of school visits tied to the 2009 Medal of Honor Convention in Chicago.
On Thursday, Mayor Daley joined Lynch and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn to announce that Chicago will host the convention, to be held Sept. 15-19, 2009.
"This is not a very big convention, as Chicago conventions go. But it will be one of the most exclusive groups of people ever to set foot in Chicago," Daley told a news conference at the Pritzker Military Library, 610 N. Fairbanks Ct.
Lynch is one of 110 living medal winners and one of only three from Illinois.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor in December 1967 for pulling three wounded comrades to safety under a hail of gunfire in Vietnam. He killed two enemy soldiers at point-blank range and five others just short of his trench.
Lynch said he plans to use his school visits to carry a message that may be tough for young people to hear.
"You're next. Whether you like it or not, you're going to grow up, and we're going to give this all to you, and you're going to have to do something with it. Are you going to be ready?" Lynch said.