HOT SPRINGS, S.D. (KOTA TV) - September 20 marks the 130th anniversary of the veterans home in Hot Springs, a statewide celebration of our commitment to caring for our veterans, including the man who the veterans home was named after.
The home is named after Medal of Honor recipient Michael J. Fitzmaurice.
Almost 10 percent of South Dakotans have served in the military, but there are only 71 living recipients in the country for the medal of honor.
"I joined right out of high school, was '69, was in Vietnam in 70,71. When I had about two months left over there, they had a attack and they blew me up, and that's how I got this award," said Michael J. Fitzmaurice, Medal of Honor recipient.
Despite the veteran's home in Hot Springs being named after him, like many who have served, Fitzmaurice is as humble as ever.
"I'd say thank you but I am just a South Dakotan trying to do what they told me, do my job and get back home, and I was lucky enough to do both," Fitzmaurice said.
Just doing their job, it's a sentiment this veteran echos.
"I served my time, and I'm proud of that, I was very fortunate, my time ended just before Vietnam started, I was under the Korean theater but I did not serve in Korea, I served in Europe," said Darrell Custer, Veteran.
"I always look for the men and women who, especially the men from the past generations, they're always wearing those hats that say veteran, and I stop no matter where I am and I walk up and I say thank you, thank you for your service. I don't tell them about my service, their service is what's important and they deserve a great big thank you form all of us," said Brad Richardson, Superintendent for the Michael J. Fitzmaurice Veterans Home.
The medal of honor is the United States highest military decoration, awarded to Fitzmaurice for his actions in Vietnam.