A local hero among our nation's greatest

  • Updated: March 26, 2009 - 12:10 PM
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Jeremy Hernandez will receive a civilian version of the Medal of Honor for his heroism after the 35W bridge collapsed, right.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Minneapolis youth worker Jeremy Hernandez, a hero of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, was given one of three Above and Beyond Citizen Honors awarded by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

In a ceremony Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery, Hernandez, 22, said he accepted the award "on behalf of my community." He is the second Twin Cities resident to receive the national award for his actions on behalf of survivors of the 2007 bridge disaster.

A youth worker at the Waite House in Minneapolis, Hernandez was credited with evacuating more than 50 children from a school bus that went down with the bridge.

The ceremony followed a wreath-laying by President Obama on behalf of the winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. Thirty-six of the 98 living Medal of Honor recipients were on hand for the ceremony, and some took part in the civilian ceremony as well.

Hernandez, who witnessed the president's unannounced arrival, said he was humbled by the Medal of Honor winners.

"Being around people who have received the Medal of Honor in war means a lot to me," he said. "They've gone through a lot more than I have."

KEVIN DIAZ

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