Disney Gives Hero's Welcome Iraq Vet, Medal of Honor Recipient

Disney Gives Hero's Welcome Iraq Vet, Medal of Honor Recipient

When former U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia came to Disneyland, the iconic attraction gave the Medal of Honor recipient a hero’s welcome.

Bellavia won the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of others during the November 2004 struggle for Fallujah during the Iraq War.

All that was distant on a recent Saturday when he and his family visited Disneyland, where during the daily flag retreat ceremony, Disney Ambassador Rafa Barron presented Bellavia with a certificate declaring him an “Honorary Citizen of the Disneyland Resort.”

“David is a hero,” said Jason Kolons, a senior mechanical engineer at the park and a member of Disney’s SALUTE team that works with veterans, according to the Disney Parks blog.

“This is a very patriotic ceremony, and I’m impressed with the way the Disneyland Resort has treated me and our veterans who have served in other generations across all branches of the military,” Bellavia said.

After the ceremony, Marine Corps veteran Douglas Settell of Sacramento thanked Bellavia for his service, the LAist reported.

“It’s an honor,” Settell said. “It’s all about the team. They go through a lot to make sure that everybody hopefully makes it back.”

Bellavia said that he has a mission.

“I want to remind people about the men I served with. And also the fact that young people need to put their communities and their country before themselves.”

He admitted he came to southern California with some trepidation, fearing that as a veteran he would be unwelcome.

“Our cable news tells us they hate the military, and they hate us.”

Reality has been far different, Bellavia said.