Video: David Bellavia reflects on receiving the Medal of Honor
David Bellavia visited the Holland Land Office Museum on Wednesday at the request of The Batavian for an exclusive interview to discuss his experience in Washington the week he received the Medal of Honor on June 25 in a ceremony at the White House and was inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon.
In the interview, we discuss not only his Medal of Honor, but the Medal of Honor received by Charles F. Rand, a Batavia resident often credited with being the first to enlist in the Army as a volunteer at the start of the Civil War. We discussed the "bubble" Bellavia was in during his time in Washington; the time he spent with the men he went to war with in Iraq;the men who didn't come home, most notably Capt. Sean Sims; what it was like on stage in the East Room during the Medal of Honor ceremony; the rush of people around him during the reception after the ceremony; what it means to represent the Army as a Medal of Honor recipient; and why he wanted to be sure to include in the events his friends from Western New York, especially the GLOW counties. Now that he's personally met President Donald Trump, we also asked for his measure of the man. And finally, we discussed his childrens' reaction, especially his sons, to the award.
NOTE AND POSSIBLE CORRECTION: We have been referring to David Bellavia and Charles Rand, including in this video, as the only two Batavia residents to receive the Medal of Honor. We knew about James E. Cross but the history on Cross, as passed along to us, has been that he was born in Darien and enlisted in Batavia. County Clerk Michael Cianfrini wrote yesterday to suggest that Cross was a resident of Batavia. This morning I did a quick search on ancestry.com and it appears Cross was a resident of Batavia during the 1860 and 1870 censuses. It appears that he enlisted in Elmira. He was discharged with a disability in 1862 and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1898. We'll see if we can find out more.