President Donald Trump hosted dozens of Medal of Honor recipients at the White House Wednesday, where he said veterans are shown more love from today's generation of Americans than ever before.
"We respect them so much," he told the 33 war heroes who'd served from World War II through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "There's a whole different spirit over our country. ... We're working so hard on that and we're doing the job."
The Medal of Honor recipients were gathered in the White House East Room for an evening reception, including three who received the award from Trump: retired Army Capt. Gary "Mike" Rose, former Army Spc. 5 James McCloughan and retired Navy Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt Slabinski.
The men gathered in Washington, D.C., this week for a Congressional Medal of Honor Society event. They represent nearly half of the nation's 72 living Medal of Honor recipients.
Also in attendance were Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie and several other Cabinet members.
Trump called the Medal of Honor recipients the bravest, strongest and finest of Americans.
"See, my ego is not that big," the president quipped. "I admit it."
Each of them was there in America's hour of need, Trump added, going above and beyond the call of duty and risking life and limb with complete disregard for their own safety.
Now they continue to give back to their communities, Trump said, like Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Lee Davis, who ignored his own wounds during Vietnam to save his comrades and fight off the enemy during an hours-long battle.
"Sammy teaches young people about the importance of patriotism and just a few months ago, he received the state of Indiana's most prestigious award for his life of service," Trump said.
Korean War hero Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Rosser has also dedicated his post-Army life to his community, serving as a police chief, construction foreman and history teacher. Rosser is credited with repeatedly braving enemy fire to take out more than a dozen fighters. Through wounded in the process, the soldier helped evacuate men with worse injuries than his own.
And after fighting in Afghanistan, Army Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry now gives back to veterans in his community. Petry picked up an enemy grenade that had landed by his comrades and attempted to throw it back at the Taliban. It detonated in his hand, amputating his limb and spraying shrapnel across his body.
"Every single recipient here has acted with heroism beyond description and courage beyond measure," Trump said.
Congressional Medal of Honor Society President Drew Dix, who received the nation's highest valor award for heroism in Vietnam, said each recipient feels a responsibility to represent all the men and women who've served in uniform.
"We do what we can to spread the character and the examples of our recipients to our youth," Dix said.