Jerry Jones of the Cowboys donates $ 20 million to the Medal of Honor museum


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DALLAS – Jerry Jones can now hear it on an NFL primetime television broadcast. The Dallas Cowboys owner imagines a national broadcast drawing attention to the National Medal of Honor Museum and Leadership Institute across the street from AT&T Stadium, honoring the legacy of the medal winners. Jones values ​​that message.

“It says it all when I look at (us) saying, ‘We have to show love to each other from all kinds of prejudices that we can speak of,'” Jones told USA TODAY Sports. “He had never seen anything that would nail him like recognition of Medal of Honor winners and what they stood for.”

And so, on the 30th anniversary of National Medal of Honor Day, and 158 years after the day the first Medal of Honor was awarded during the Civil War as the highest military award for valor in combat, Jones is pledging $ 20 million to advance the museum’s campaign. The funding pushes the museum to $ 70 million as it nears completion of its design phase, with plans to begin next spring.

“I am well aware,” Jones said about leveraging his NFL platform, “that when we endorse or acknowledge something special about our country in a meaningful way, it will show.”

Values, not value

The Jones family’s involvement dates back to 2019. The National Medal of Honor Foundation sought to further cement the values ​​of an award that has recognized 3,507 people, 69 of whom are still living. The search for the museum’s location had narrowed down to two cities: Arlington and Denver.

The mayor of Arlington asked the Joneses for help securing the offer. Charlotte Jones, executive vice president and chief brand officer for the Cowboys, wondered: Doesn’t this already exist? She told the foundation president that if she committed to Arlington at that time, the Cowboys would honor the Medal of Honor winners at the weekend’s Cowboys-Packers game. He said he would seek the visit of former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush for the occasion. Millions of fans tuning in to the broadcast would learn about the museum.

“We can (achieve this) if they agree right now,” Charlotte Jones, now chair of the museum’s board, told the foundation. “I’m not going to call the former president if you don’t say we have this.”

They made a deal.

The potential was clear, the Joneses say, to impart values ​​they find increasingly relevant during times of polarization. The museum will aim to educate visitors about six values: courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship, and patriotism. Technologically advanced displays on Medal of Honor winners will highlight racial and religious diversity among prominent military members, while tracing values ​​and traits that transcend any war or battle.

And the museum’s mission will extend far beyond the walls of Arlington. Just as Cowboys games are broadcast in the tens of millions from a stadium that seats approximately 100,000, the museum’s leadership institute will amplify the stories of Medal of Honor winners on programming across the country.

“This project is really about driving character-driven leadership and empowering patriotism and letting people really understand, not what [recipients] They did it, but how they did it, ”Charlotte Jones told USA TODAY Sports. “What were they made of that made them risk not only their lives, in many cases, but the total sacrifice they gave to our country?”

Retired Major General Pat Brady, who received the Medal of Honor in 1969 and now sits on the foundation’s board, describes the distinction as an emphasis on values ​​over valor. Brady was recognized after he and his crew rescued nearly 100 wounded soldiers on January 6, 1968 in Vietnam.

He said he hopes museum visitors will be inspired not only by the way the Medal of Honor winners defended the country, but also by how they “designed, improved, and enriched the nation” before and after the feats they performed. they earned their medals.

“We are not just talking about physical courage, we are talking about moral courage, intellectual courage,” Brady told USA TODAY Sports. “Physical Courage & mldr; you can win a battle or a ball game.

“But moral courage can change the world.”

‘What we all hope to be’

The National Museum of the Medal of Honor is not scheduled to open until 2024, but already has the support of several former Presidents of the United States who are honorary directors: President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton and President Jimmy. Carter. His leadership and national advisory services include former directors of the CIA and NSA, as well as former secretaries of defense.

“Those who choose to serve our country are all: they are black, they are white, they come from different backgrounds, they are immigrants, they were born here,” said Charlotte Jones. “They are the largest collection of who our country is and those who truly believe in America’s ideals. They are the ones who commit their lives to protect that and defend democracy ”.

That diversity, the Joneses hope, will be reflected in the audience the museum inspires. They’ve already seen fans of all backgrounds gather at Cowboys Stadium 1.2 miles east. Why not in the museum?

“Everyone in that stadium (comes) from different cultures, different ages, religions, backgrounds,” Charlotte Jones said. “But that day, they are the same, and they all come together and cheer and root together and become one.

“Well this is the same, just rooted in what we all hope to be.”

Sacrifice includes more than just the online life situations that Medal of Honor recipients face. “Let’s collaborate,” said Jerry Jones, “and let’s love and do it for each other.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.



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