The Congressional Medal of Honor
Always An Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest honor that can be awarded to American soldiers. It dates back to 1861 and the Civil War.
The first Medal of Honor was created for the Navy-Marines. It honored sailors and marines and was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. The Army, not to be outdone; in 1862 followed suit and the Army Medal of Honor was created. The honors were to be bestowed on to the Civil War soldiers, but by 1863 it was extended to soldiers beyond the Civil War. The Army allowed it's officers to receive the Medal of Honor, but only during combat. The Navy kept it strictly for the enlisted and any act of valor could be honored, during war or not.
Those that have gone far beyond the call of duty have earned the Medal of Honor. A soldier who has risked their own life to protect the life of others to include their fellow soldiers, gone to extremes during war are worthy of the Medal of Honor. The act must be witnessed by at least two witnesses.
Special Board Changes In 1916
In 1916, the army convened a special board to review all medal recipients and at the end of their investigation rescinded 911 medals. The majority had gone to one troop, the 27th Infantry in 1863, Gettysburg, but had never seen battle there.
The board then recommended that other medals be awarded for different levels of heroism; making the Medal of Honor the highest honor and the hardest to attain.
During World War I, the Distinguished Service Cross was created by the Army and the next honor below the Medal of Honor; then introduced was the Silver Star. The Navy introduced the Navy Cross and also awarded the Silver Star.
From the Civil War to World Wars to our current war in Iraq, America has honored the bravest of the brave with our highest honor; the Medal Of Honor.