BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Liliana Tapia-Rajlal, 10, is one in a million. Make that one in 1.7 million.
Tapia-Rajlal was awarded the Medal of Honor on Saturday morning at Deer Peak Park for her brave actions –saving the lives of her neighbors from a fire in August 2022 when she was just 9 years old.
“Through your willingness to take decisive action in the midst of an emergency you’ve not only saved a life, but you’ve served as an example for all girl scouts,” Russell Statham, the CEO of Girl Central California said to Tapia-Rajlal.
This Medal of Honor only goes out to less than 1% of the 1.7 million girl scouts across the country.
“Thank you for coming here,” said Tapia-Raljal in an address. “I’m grateful for you guys coming here to celebrate me earning my medal of honor.”
Tapia-Raljal sprang into action during a family road trip on Aug. 13, 2022, after spotting smoke from her neighborhood.
“She decided for us to go up to the smoke, and see what was going on so, sure enough we got there, and there was a trash can on fire,” said Eric Tapia, Tapia-Raljal’s father.
Tapia-Raljal told her dad to call 911, and the family started to evacuate the neighbors. The result — five people, three cats and two dogs are all safe. But the aftermath of the fire can still be seen more than a year later.
“I never thought that this would happen to our family, but I’m very proud of her, and I’m going to look up to her now,” said Tapia.
The National Board of Girl Scouts and the Mayor of Bakersfield also sent letters praising the courageous girl with a heroic heart.
Tapia-Raljal’s scout leader, Dineen Gerard Larsen, was also at the ceremony in remembrance. Larsen nominated Tapia-Raljal for the Medal of Honor, but never got to see the ceremony. Larsen died away in November 2022.
Now, Tapia-Raljal carries on the tradition of what it means to be a girl scout.
“Tell an adult to call 911 so you can stop the fire or whatever is happening,” said Tapia-Raljal.
The Medal of Honor Ceremony is over, but “Safety First” will always be a part of Tapia-Rajlal’s life.
“She may land in something regarding safety, and keeping our communities safe,” said Christina Tapia-Raljal, Tapia-Raljal’s mother. “I definitely see that in her future.”