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muriel j smith 120 2018I have really never ever been accused of being short-tempered or impatient. But I really don’t like to waste time. And I’m not very keen on being ignored.  There are too many wonderful ways to enjoy life to waste even a minute of it,   and ignoring e-mails or declining to answer some simple questions is just plain rude.

So in spite of all the e-mail correspondence between the archivist at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and myself, I could tell I wasn’t getting anywhere.  There were many times I asked about Pvt. Fallon’s Medal of Honor being used to represent another hero, and my e-mails were simply ignored. I simply wrote again the next day and asked the same question again.  It happened a lot.  In the end, I usually got an answer and it usually included some way of saying how terribly busy the college archivist was.

I never did get to meet the archivist….he was always terribly busy……but I have friends who know him and have told me what a nice gentleman he is. Maybe nice gentlemen who are trying to keep a Congressional Medal of Honor  from honoring its rightful hero just think ignoring or making excuses are the way to make me quit asking.  It doesn’t work that way.

dickenson college gateBy August of 2017, I learned that although the archivist said he asked a colleague at the Army Heritage Education Center how to do ‘the right thing’ for the Medal that should have been in Freehold honoring Pvt. Thomas T. Fallon, that colleague “has not yet gotten back to me to provide either information about disposition of Medals of Honor or a contact at another Army officer where I can direct the question.”  As always, his letters ended with a very polite  “I will be sure to be in touch when I have more information.”

Though I wondered why the archivist simply didn’t call Fort Knox, from whence the college had received the Medal of Honor in 1957, I decided to contact them myself. They weren’t too helpful to me either. Although I identified Pvt. Fallon, explained where the Medal was, said an Army officer gave it to Dickinson in 1957, said Pvt. Fallon came from Freehold, NJ, and asked for the history of how the Medal got to Carlisle, Pa.,  I erred and identified Pvt. Fallon as Pvt. James Fallon, not Thomas T. Fallon. That prompted a letter in October 2017 telling me, of course, there was no Medal of Honor recipient named James Fallon.  But they didn’t add there indeed was a Pvt. Thomas Fallon from Freehold, NJ. So my error in providing the proper first name caused me some delay.

I also sent another letter to the college archivist saying I’d like to come see the Medal of Honor, and by the way, would also like to meet with him at the same time.  When that first piece of correspondence didn’t get answered, of course I wrote again. The archivist wrote again, “I did receive your message, but I have been remarkably busy.”

He went on to tell me I’d be welcome to visit the Archives and Special Collections at any time.  “Our collections are open to any and all interested visitors.”  He did send me a copy of the letter from the college archivist in 1957 asking for “an example of the medal….”  and the army’s response from a General that they would just send him an actual, true, real live Congressional Medal of Honor.  And that’s how Pvt. Thomas T. Fallon’s Congressional Medal of Honor ended up in a college he never visited, in a state he probably only visited, if at all, as a soldier in war, in a museum showcase he never saw, honoring another man he never met. A General at that. Freehold’s army private now had his Medal of Honor purporting to be that of a General.

dickinson college

Oh, and as for my coming up and meeting the archivist,  his response was “I will not have time to meet with you….but I will continue to pursue guidance from US Army authorities about this matter as my schedule permits.”

I called to make an appointment with the President of the college.  I wasn’t surprised when the response was that nope, she couldn’t meet with me either.

This consistent desire to ignore me and not pay any attention to my very real concerns about a Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor given to heroic men and women, was starting to bother me.

NEXT: Visiting Carlisle, PA