A unique piece of art was dedicated on Saturday, Veterans Day, to honor the only member of Bedford’s American Legion Post 221 to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor.
The drawing by renowned naval engineer and artist Peter Hsu depicts the USS Thomas Hudner, a guided missile destroyer that today is part of a carrier strike group deployed to the eastern Mediterranean.
Capt. Hudner, a Concord resident who died in 2017 at age 93, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman in April 1951 in recognition of his heroic efforts to rescue a fellow naval aviator, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War in December 1950.
A portrait of the captain, as well as the medal presentation by Truman, the Capitol dome, and vintage aircraft, are also depicted on the canvas, one of a limited number of the sketches.
Jon O’Connor, former commander of Post 221, said Capt. Hudner, who moved to Concord in 1991, affiliated with the Bedford post because there isn’t an active American Legion in his town of residence.
O’Connor presided at Saturday’s dedication, noting that the artwork will be illuminated and hung in the Members Lounge downstairs at the post, 357 The Great Road.
The USS Thomas Hudner was built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine beginning in 2012. That year, the secretary of the Navy announced that the ship would honor Capt. Hudner. O’Connor said that was only the 11th time a Naval vessel was commissioned to honor a living person.
“The motto of the ship is ‘Above All Others.’ Capt. Hudner led his life to serve, help, and rescue others,” said O’Connor, who met Hudner during his years at the Bedford post.
Hudner’s comradeship with Brown was the theme of a 2015 book by Adam Makos, “Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice.” The film “Devotion” followed in 2022.
The honoree, who served in the Navy for 27 years, was commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services from 1991 to 1999.