More than 1,500 Montana families whose relatives have been killed in the military or are missing in action will be receiving a Meal of Valor from the state of Montana.
State officials will spend the next year identifying those who are eligible to receive the award.
Eligible for the award are all people who have served in conflicts from World War II to Afghanistan.
The state will fund the awards, which will cost about $70 each to produce, but if people want, they can make contributions to the Department of Military Affairs in Helena.
The medal will include a depiction of Montana’s mountains and plains, as well as an eagle feather to pay tribute to the many Native American Montanans who have given their lives for their country.
The Montana Legislature should be praised for its approval of this medal program, and Gov. Steve Bullock was right to sign it.
There are other awards and programs that have paid tribute to deceased veterans, but it is especially appropriate that Montana honors its fallen military personnel. For decades, Montana has had one of the highest rates per capita of people volunteering for the armed forces.
We hope the awards will be presented in public, in places where all of us can pay tribute to these fine fallen soldiers.
It would be tremendous to get young people involved in the programs, so they can learn of the people who gave their all so the kids can enjoy their freedoms today.
The Medal of Valor can be a tremendous teaching opportunity for young people and for all of us who often tend to forget the sacrifices that people have made.
Each of the fallen victims has interesting stories. It would be great if we could hear them as the medals are distributed.