“Conspicuous gallantry…selfless bravery…undaunted courage…unwavering devotion…above and beyond the call of duty” — These are common phrases found throughout the Medal of Honor citations for Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, Sgt. Dakota Meyer, Cpl. Jason Dunham and other Marine recipients of our nation’s highest military award. These Marines displayed the qualities of the ultimate hero through their actions and sacrifice, but they’re not the only ones who have these traits. There are many others in our nation’s history whose actions were found deserving of this award.
In fact, the Medal of Honor was first authorized for Marines and sailors in 1861, and while more than 3,400 of them have been given out since then; 297 of those awards have been earned by Marines.
March 25th, has been designated as National Medal of Honor Day, marking the date that the first Medal of Honor was awarded. In recognition of all who have earned our nation’s highest military honor, here are five things you probably didn’t know about the award.
What’s in a name?
The “Congressional Medal of Honor”? Yeah, that thing doesn’t exist. Contrary to popular belief, the award is simply titled the “Medal of Honor”. The media often refers to it as the “Congressional Medal of Honor”, probably because the citation states “in the name of Congress” or because there is a Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Making the ultimate sacrifice
In 1863, four Union Army soldiers who were a part of Andrew’s Raiders were hung as spies, eventually being awarded the Medal of Honor for their service in the Civil War. This made them the first recipients to make the ultimate sacrifice.
1 in 3,486
Mary Edwards Walker is the only female recipient of the Medal of Honor for her actions during the Civil War. In 1917, the Army reviewed its Medal of Honor Roll and redacted her award, but President Jimmy Carter restored her medal posthumously 60 years later.
The one and only
At one point, the Medal of Honor was the U.S. military’s only award. If you fought valiantly during the Civil War, chances were you got a Medal of Honor. Almost half of all the Medals of Honor ever given were awarded during that conflict.
Keeping it in the family
Five sets of brothers and two father-son pairs have been recipients of the Medal of Honor. One of the father-son pairs is former president, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and his son, Theodore Roosevelt III.
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