With all the controversy surrounding standing or kneeling for the flag at NFL games, and the Vietnam series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, all one has to do to recognize what’s really important is to spend the week with some Medal of Honor recipients.

Most if not all recipients will say that they hold the medal in honor of all those they fought with and some who didn’t make it home. They respect our country, our values, our families and our freedom. They define the word humble but epitomize strength and humility for the rest of us.

Pueblo CO, where the annual MOH society convention was held in 2000, hosted a return engagement for the recipients the week of Sept. 11. They say that if you meet just one recipient in your lifetime, you are blessed, but the citizens of Pueblo and the front range got to shake the hands of about 40 recipients at various venues throughout the week. There was a dinner at the Center for American Values (co-founded by Pueblo’s own recipient, Drew Dix), an autograph session for fans, a rodeo out west of town, a breakfast at the Rawlings Library, visits to local schools, tours of various local attractions, and that was just for starters. Actor and military friend Gary Sinise brought his Lt Dan Band to Memorial Hall on Thursday night, preceded by hugs and handshakes with recipients and their families, who are obviously good friends of Sinise. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk and tours the country tirelessly to advocate for veterans through his concerts and the Gary Sinise Foundation.

The last night brought the week to a crescendo with the Cattle Baron’s gala. Awards were given to author Jeff Shaara (author of many military books including Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure), Pueblo’s own Dana Perino (who served as White House Press Secretary in the Bush administration and is now on Fox News), William Hybl (Chairman and CEO of the El Pomar Foundation), and former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

The memories of sharing space with these American heroes will live on for a long time to come. They have a way of cutting through rhetoric and leaving a new high bar definition of honor. We salute them.