1 of 10A display of the letters, packages and other mail en route to Medal of Honor recipients from school classrooms and others, thanking them for their acts of courage. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
2 of 10Wililam Swenson poses with some of the mail he received during a Medal of Honor luncheon March 22. Swenson earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan in 2009, helping fend off an enemy ambush and making multiple trips into a "kill zone" to recover fallen comrades. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
3 of 10Janine Stange, also known as "The National Anthem Girl" (she's performed the anthem in all 50 states), shows off the mail she collected from students and others to deliver to Medal of Honor recipients at a luncheon in advance of National Medal of Honor Day. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
4 of 10A student's letter to (and portrait of) Dakota Meyer, who earned the Medal of Honor as a Marine corporal for his heroism in the face of an enemy ambush in Afghanistan in 2009. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
5 of 10Roger Donlon shows off some of the mail he received at a luncheon honoring Medal of Honor recipients March 22. Donlon, the first man to receive the Medal of Honor for service during the Vietnam War, also was the first-ever Special Forces soldier honored with the award. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
6 of 10Donald ("Doc") Ballard poses with Janine Stange, who delivered Ballard and about 30 other Medal of Honor recipients mail from students and others during a March 22 luncheon. During a 1968 ambush in Quang Tri Province, then-Navy corpsman Ballard's efforts to save his Marines comrades included leaping on a grenade. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
7 of 10A student's letter to Ryan Pitts, whose actions defending an observation post while an Army sergeant in Afghanistan in 2008 despite near-fatal injuries earned him the Medal of Honor. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
8 of 10Walter Marm, who earned his Medal of Honor for actions while an Army first lieutenant in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley in 1965, poses with his letters during a March 22 luncheon honoring Medal of Honor recipients. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
9 of 10A student's portrait of Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams, who earned the Medal of Honor for his heroism on Iwo Jima in 1945. (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
10 of 10Gary Lee Littrell, who earned his Medal of Honor for his actions as an Army sergeant first class in Vietnam while his battalion endured a four-day bombardment, poses Janine Stange and his letters (Courtesy of Janine Stange)
Hundreds of letter-writers had the chance to show their appreciation for Medal of Honor recipients last week, sending thousands of pieces of mail for delivery to the more than two dozen honorees who attended a luncheon outside Washington, D.C., in advance of National Medal of Honor Day.
It marked the second year the luncheon included a mail call, which was organized by Janine Stange, a frequent supporter of veteran causes who is best known as “The National Anthem Girl” ― she’s performed the song in all 50 states. Stange promoted the effort via her website and social media channels, as well as a regular spot on SiriusXM radio.
Stange received more than just a handful of letters from schoolkids, she said: Some participants drew portraits, others included wood carvings. She even received gift cards and books to hand out at the luncheon, where she performed the national anthem.
The U.S. soldier was badly wounded, returned to battle and fought to the death. He was recommended for the nation's highest valor award, but the award was downgraded. Some say racism had a role in that.
See the gallery above for some images from the event and of some of the cards and letters Stange has collected during the two-year effort. For more stories of valor, visit Military Times’ new-look Hall of Valor Project website, which includes expanded search options and thousands of citations for Medal of Honor awards and other valor decorations.