CITY OF BATAVIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — U.S. Army veteran David Bellavia received a 'hometown hero' welcome in Batavia Tuesday. The Medal of Honor recipient received a ‘key to the city’ during a special ceremony that included war veterans and citizens.
With city, county and state leaders by his side Bellavia received a heartwarming hero’s welcome.
Watch the full ceremony
Bellavia is a Lyndoville native in Orleans County, but once lived in Batavia.
Bellavia says he considers Batavia his second home. He lived in Batavia for the start of his military career. It’s also where he and his wife married and where his children went to school.
And Tuesday he received the key to his adopted hometown, weeks after President Trump awarded the 43-year-old Bellavia the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Bellavia for his heroism and valor in the Second Battle of Fallujah.
“We don’t do it for awards. We don’t do it for keys to the city,” Bellavia declared in his speech.
Bellavia made history as the first living recipient of this medal from the Iraq war. The medal of honor is the highest recognition in the U.S.
Vietnam veteran Jim Neider of Stafford came to see Bellavia. He said it brought tears to his eyes as Bellavia called out the local veterans for their service.
“Here is something you deserved to have heard when you came home from Vietnam which is thank you for your service and welcome home,” Bellavia addressed the vets.
“Today duty is forgotten a lot and it’s important. And in fact, it may be the most important that a person has to do is decide what to do with their lives,” Neider said.
There is a lot of speculation that this might be a stepping stone for Bellavia to run for the 27th congressional seat. We asked Bellavia about his future.
“David so many people want to know what your next step is. Will you run for congress?” Buckley asked.
“You know – I’m with the army right now and I’m very proud to be with the army. I think it would be really irresponsible. I don’t think I’m authorized to even talk that. I can assure you – it’s the last thing on my mind,” replied Bellavia.
Bellava says despite how divided the country remains, he has experienced a great deal of respect. One the first events he attended after getting his medal was the gay pride parade in New York City.
Bellavia conducted a "meet and greet" after the ceremony.