Honoring Medal of Honor recipients

Retired Navy SEAL and former NASA chief astronaut Chris Cassidy is now the president and chief executive officer of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.

With National Medal of Honor Day (March 25) just around the corner, Cassidy is this week’s guest on The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast, hosted by Jeff Daly and Ashley Gutermuth.

Through education, leadership and inspiring spaces for learning and reflection, the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation preserves and expands the impact of the 3,515 recipients and the more than 40 million Americans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since the Civil War.

The Arlington, Texas, museum is under construction now with plans to open on Medal of Honor Day in 2025. For Cassidy, it was a perfect fit, extending his passion for service to America.

“It felt like a great opportunity to continue to serve,” he says of his role.

Cassidy’s vision is for the museum to share stories of courage and leave visitors inspired to pursue their own acts of courage.

“Our museum and our institute are not going to be where you learn the history of military wars,” he explained. “It’s not going to be where you see tons of tanks or airplanes. This is going to be a museum of biographies and stories of individual people, normal Americans, who did something extraordinary when the country needed them. These stories of courage, sacrifice and love of teammate are what we are highlighting.”

(Check out the Legion’s video collection of Medal of Honor recipients sharing their first-person accounts of service and sacrifice.)

Cassidy, who was selected as an astronaut in 2004, did three space flights and 10 space walks. He has flown to the lnternational Space Station aboard space shuttle Endeavor and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Recalling when he was first assigned to a space mission, he says, “It was a really cool moment. It was really exciting.”

Launch day was a memorable moment, he says. After literally packing their bags, leaving behind almost everything and getting into their space suits, the team was driven to the launch pad.

“You get there and you look up at this rocket, fully fueled, steam coming out of it, ice on it,” he explains. “It’s just crazy. And you realize it’s game day. We’re getting into that thing. All these nerves, excitement and pride. It’s such a cool day. Launch day is really special.”

Daly and Gutermuth also discuss:

• In a very touching moment, Daly recalls surviving and recovering from his stroke that occurred one year ago today, March 21.

• Why yoga is for everyone, as recent guest Brianna Renner of the Veterans Yoga Project discussed on this episode of Tango Alpha Lima.

• The Punisher — “the greatest super hero in the Marvel universe,” claims Daly — is back.

• A military discount for Major League Baseball.

Check out this week’s episode, which is among more than 170 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on iTunes, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.