The Medal of Honor

By  | September 3, 2018 | Filed under: News

  The Medal of Honor is the highest award that can be given by the United States Military.  This award is given to military personnel that have distinguished themselves by Acts of Valor.  The award is usually presented by the President of the United States on behalf of Congress.  It is commonly known as the Congressional Medal of Honor.

There are three version of the Medal of Honor, one for the Navy, one for the Air Force and one for the Army.   Members of the United States Marine Corps and Coast Guard get the Navy version.  The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued decorations of the United States Armed Forces.

When the President of the United States presents the Medal of Honor, it is usually done as a formal ceremony in Washington D.C.  If the Medal of Honor is awarded posthumously, it is presented to the next of kin.  There has been 3520 Medal of Honors awarded since its inception.

In 1990 Congress passed legislation stating the May 25th is National Medal of Honor Day.  Due to the prestige and status of the Medal of Honor, it is offer special protection under United States Law on the sale or manufacture of copies of the Medal of Honor or Ribbon.

In regards to the history of the Medal of Honor, I am going to refer to Wikipedia.  This is from their website:

Senator Henry Wilson, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, introduced a resolution on February 15, 1862 for an Army Medal of Honor. The resolution (37th Congress, Second Session, 12 Stat. 623) was approved by Congress and signed into law on July 12, 1862 (“Medals of Honor” were established for enlisted men of the Army). This measure provided for awarding a medal of honor “to such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” During the war, Townsend would have some medals delivered to some recipients with a letter requesting acknowledgement of the “Medal of Honor”.

   The letter written and signed by Townsend on behalf of the Secretary of War, stated that the resolution was “to provide for the presentation of medals of honor to the enlisted men of the army and volunteer forces who have distinguished or may distinguish themselves in battle during the present rebellion.”  By mid-November the War Department contracted with Philadelphia silversmith William Wilson and Son, who had been responsible for the Navy design, to prepare 2,000 Army medals ($2.00 each) to be cast at the mint.    The Army version had “The Congress to” written on the back of the medal. Both versions were made of copper and coated with bronze, which “gave them a reddish tint”.

1863: Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration. On March 3, Medals of Honor were authorized for officers of the Army (37th Congress, Third Session, 12 Stat. 751). The Secretary of War first presented the Medal of Honor to six Union Army volunteers on March 25, 1863 in his office.

1890: On April 23, the Medal of Honor Legion is established in Washington, D.C.

1896: The ribbon of the Army version Medal of Honor was redesigned with all stripes being vertical.

1904: The planchet of the Army version of the Medal of Honor was redesigned by General George Lewis Gillespie.   The purpose of the redesign was to help distinguish the Medal of Honor from other medals, particularly the membership insignia issued by the Grand Army of the Republic.

1915: On March 3, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers became eligible for the Medal of Honor.

1917: Based on the report of the Medal of Honor Review Board, established by Congress in 1916, 911 recipients were stricken off the Medal of Honor roll because the medal had been awarded inappropriately. Among them were Buffalo Bill and Mary Edwards Walker. Some medals were restored in 1977

1963: A separate Coast Guard medal was authorized in 1963, but not yet designed or awarded.

1965: A separate design for a version of the medal for the U.S. Air Force was created in 1956, authorized in 1960, and officially adopted on April 14, 1965. Previously, members of the U.S. Air Force received the Army version of the medal.

Since 1944, the Medal of Honor has been attached to a light blue silk neck ribbon.  In 1986, Congress authorized a Ribbon that could be worn instead of the Medal itself while in uniform.  There is also a Lapel Pin that can be worn while in a suit and tie.  A person that has received the Medal of Honor also has Special Privileges and Courtesies.  For these, I am going to refer back to Wikipedia:

  The Medal of Honor confers special privileges on its recipients. By law, recipients have several benefits:

  • Each Medal of Honor recipient may have his or her name entered on the Medal of Honor Roll (38 U.S.C. 1560).
  • Each person whose name is placed on the Medal of Honor Roll is certified to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as being entitled to receive a monthly pension above and beyond any military pensions or other benefits for which they may be eligible. The pension is subject to cost-of-living increases; as of December 1, 2014, it is $1,299.61 a month.
  • Enlisted recipients of the Medal of Honor are entitled to a supplemental uniform allowance
  • Recipients receive special entitlements to air transportation under the provisions of DOD Regulation 4515.13-R. This benefit allows the recipient to travel as he or she deems fit across geographical locations, and allows the recipient’s dependents to travel Overseas-Overseas, Overseas-Continental US, or Continental US-Overseas when accompanied by the recipient.
  • Special identification cards and commissary and exchangeprivileges are provided for Medal of Honor recipients and their eligible dependents.   Recipients are granted eligibility for interment at Arlington National Cemetery, if not otherwise eligible.
  • Fully qualified children of recipients are eligible for admission to the United States service academieswithout regard to the nomination and quota requirements.
  • Recipients receive a 10 percent increase in retired pay.
  • Those awarded the medal after October 23, 2002, receive a Medal of Honor Flag. The law specified that all 103 living prior recipients as of that date would receive a flag.
  • Recipients receive an invitation to all future presidential inaugurationsand inaugural balls.
  • As with all medals, retired personnel may wear the Medal of Honor on “appropriate” civilian clothing. Regulations specify that recipients of the Medal of Honor are allowed to wear the uniform “at their pleasure” with standard restrictions on political, commercial, or extremist purposes (other former members of the armed forces may do so only at certain ceremonial occasions).
  • Most states (40) offer a special license plate for certain types of vehicles to recipients at little or no cost to the recipient. The states that do not offer Medal of Honor specific license plate offer special license plates for veterans for which recipients may be eligible. 


  • Although not required by law or military regulation, members of the uniformed services are encouraged to render salutes to recipients of the Medal of Honor as a matter of respect and courtesy regardless of rank or status, whether or not they are in uniform.    This is one of the few instances where a living member of the military will receive salutes from members of a higher rank.

I hope that one day; I can meet one of these Medal of Honor winners so that I may shake their hand and Salute them.  Some have made the Ultimate Sacrifice by giving their lives for us to have Freedom in this great Country of ours.  The Medal of Honor is a very Prestigious Award and anyone that wears it, is a special person.

    Bobby Inman is retired from Law Enforcement after 21 years of Service.  He is a Consultant for Southern Heritage Gun & Pawn in Tuscumbia.   He has articles published in Law & Order Magazine, Police Marksman Magazine, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement Magazine as well as several published ebooks on Amazon, Kobo Writing, as well as Nook (Barnes & Noble).  He is owner of Poopiedog, an Animal Rescue Dachshund, who is his constant companion.   He is a Senior Investigative Reporter for the Quad Cities Daily.  Bobby is the Photographer for Continental Championship Wrestling. 


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