COL Leo Thorsness (Ret.) | USAF Photo
Looking to offer local teens a chance to meet an individual who earned the United States of America’s highest military honor, the Reagan Library Foundation is putting together several talks with Medal of Honor recipients.
Golden Valley will be the only local stop for the tour. Col. Leo Thorsness, a pilot during the Vietnam war, will speak at Golden Valley at 10 a.m. next Friday.
“It puts kids in touch with the type of people they should be looking up to as heroes,” said Tony Pennay, director of the Walter Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center. “A lot of kids, before they go into the classroom, have the concept of a hero as a sports hero, or that sort of thing.
“And then when they hear the stories about the types of things they’ve done and the bravery that they’ve exhibited, they really do kind of have a shift in what they think of what it means to be a hero,” he said. “It can be a life-changing experience.”
Sharing their personal accounts and experiences, the lesson plans do not glorify or glamorize war — these dramatic “living histories” and instructional activities encourage students to consider courage from their own perspectives, according to a news release.
Thorsness served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam. The retired colonel, who also served as a state senator in Washington, spent six years in captivity in North Vietnam as a prisoner of war after the plane he was piloting was shot down.
The event is a partnership between the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
There will also be a presentation by three Medal of Honor recipients, including Thorsness, on Thursday at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
The Reagan Foundation sustains the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, the Reagan Center for Public Affairs, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center and The Air Force One Pavilion.
The library houses 63 million pages of gubernatorial, presidential and personal papers, and over 60,000 gifts and artifacts chronicling the lives of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. It also serves as the final resting place of America’s 40th president.