Medal of Honor
Overview
 
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration
Awards and decorations of the United States military
Awards and decorations of the United States Military are military decorations which recognize service and personal accomplishments while a member of the United States armed forces...

 awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." Due to the nature of its criteria, it is often awarded posthumously (more than half have been since 1941).

Members of all branches of the armed forces are eligible to receive the medal, and there are three versions (one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard).
Encyclopedia
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration
Awards and decorations of the United States military
Awards and decorations of the United States Military are military decorations which recognize service and personal accomplishments while a member of the United States armed forces...

 awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." Due to the nature of its criteria, it is often awarded posthumously (more than half have been since 1941).

Members of all branches of the armed forces are eligible to receive the medal, and there are three versions (one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard). The Medal of Honor is bestowed upon an individual by the passing of a Joint Resolution in the Congress. It is then presented to the recipient or, for posthumous awards, to next of kin. The President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 presents the medal in person, on behalf of the Congress, representing and recognizing the gratitude of the American people as a whole. Due to its honored status, the medal is afforded special protection under U.S. law.

The Medal of Honor is one of two military neck order
Neck order
A neck order is a type of decoration which is designed to be worn and displayed around a person's neck, rather than hung from the chest as is the standard practice for displaying most decorations....

 awards issued by the United States and is the sole neck order awarded to members of the armed forces (the Commander's Degree of the Legion of Merit
Legion of Merit
The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

 is a neck order but it is only authorized for issue to foreign dignitaries).

As the award citation includes the phrase "in the name of Congress", it is sometimes erroneously called the Congressional Medal of Honor; however, the official title is simply the Medal of Honor.

History

The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by American soldiers was established by George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 on August 7, 1782, when he created the Badge of Military Merit
Badge of Military Merit
The Badge of Military Merit is considered the first military award of the United States Armed Forces. Although the Fidelity Medallion is older, after being issued to three soldiers for a specific event in 1780 it was never awarded again, so the Badge of Military Merit is often considered the oldest...

, designed to recognize "any singularly meritorious action." This decoration is America's first combat award and the second oldest American military decoration of any type, after the Fidelity Medallion
Fidelity Medallion
The Fidelity Medallion is the oldest decoration of the United States military and was created by act of the Continental Congress in 1780. Also known as the "André Capture Medal", the Fidelity Medallion was awarded to those soldiers who participated in the capture of Major John André, of the...

.

Although the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, the concept of a military award for individual gallantry by members of the U.S. armed forces had been established. In 1847, after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, a Certificate of Merit
Certificate of Merit Medal
The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration of the United States Army that was issued between the years of 1905 and 1918. The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration which replaced the much older "Certificate of Merit" which had first been issued by the U.S...

 was established for soldiers who distinguished themselves in action. The certificate was later granted medal status as the Certificate of Merit Medal
Certificate of Merit Medal
The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration of the United States Army that was issued between the years of 1905 and 1918. The Certificate of Merit Medal was a military decoration which replaced the much older "Certificate of Merit" which had first been issued by the U.S...

.

Early in the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, a medal for individual valor was proposed by Iowa Senator James W. Grimes
James W. Grimes
James Wilson Grimes was an American politician, serving as the third Governor of Iowa and a United States Senator from Iowa.-Biography:...

 to Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852....

, the Commanding General
Commanding General of the United States Army
Prior to the institution of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army in 1903, there was generally a single senior-most officer in the army. From 1783, he was known simply as the Senior Officer of the United States Army, but in 1821, the title was changed to Commanding General of the United...

 of the United States Army. Scott did not approve the proposal, but the medal did come into use in the Navy. Senate Bill 82, containing a provision for a "Medal of Honor", was signed into law (12Stat329) by President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 on December 21, 1861. The medal was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war." Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles
Gideon Welles
Gideon Welles was the United States Secretary of the Navy from 1861 to 1869. His buildup of the Navy to successfully execute blockades of Southern ports was a key component of Northern victory of the Civil War...

 directed the Philadelphia Mint
Philadelphia Mint
The Philadelphia Mint was created from the need to establish a national identity and the needs of commerce in the United States. This led the Founding Fathers of the United States to make an establishment of a continental national mint a main priority after the ratification of the Constitution of...

 to design the new decoration. Shortly afterward, a resolution of similar wording was introduced on behalf of the Army and was signed into law on July 12, 1862. This measure provided for awarding a Medal of Honor, as the Navy version came to be called: "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities, during the present insurrection."

As there were only two medals that could be issued until World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 including the Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

, the Medal of Honor was sometimes awarded for deeds that would not later merit that distinction. In 1917, when other medals were created for bravery, a recall was requested for 910 Medals of Honor that had been previously issued, but no longer considered that noteworthy. Thereafter, and until the present day, the Medal has been awarded for deeds that were considered exceptional.

Appearance

The Medal of Honor has evolved in appearance since its creation in 1862. The present Army medal consists of a gold star surrounded by a wreath, topped by an eagle on a bar inscribed with the word "Valor." The medal is attached by a hook to a light blue moiré
Moiré pattern
In physics, a moiré pattern is an interference pattern created, for example, when two grids are overlaid at an angle, or when they have slightly different mesh sizes.- Etymology :...

 silk neckband that is 1316 inches (30 mm) in width and 21¾ inches (552 mm) in length.

There is a version of the medal for each sub-cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 component of the Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

: the Department of the Army
United States Department of the Army
The Department of the Army is one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense of the United States of America. The Department of the Army is the Federal Government agency which the United States Army is organized within, and it is led by the Secretary of the Army who has...

, Department of the Navy
United States Department of the Navy
The Department of the Navy of the United States of America was established by an Act of Congress on 30 April 1798, to provide a government organizational structure to the United States Navy and, from 1834 onwards, for the United States Marine Corps, and when directed by the President, of the...

, and Department of the Air Force. Before 1965, when the U.S. Air Force design was adopted, members of the U.S. Army Air Corps, U.S. Army Air Forces, and the U.S. Air Force received the Army version of the medal.

The Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 Medal of Honor, which was distinguished from the Navy medal in 1963, partly because the U.S. Coast Guard is subsumed into the U.S. Navy in time of declared war. No design yet exists for it. Only one member of the Coast Guard has received a Medal of Honor, Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro
Douglas Albert Munro
-External links:...

, who was awarded the Navy version for action during the Battle of Guadalcanal
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, sometimes referred to as the Third and Fourth Battles of Savo Island, the Battle of the Solomons, The Battle of Friday the 13th, or, in Japanese sources, as the , took place from 12–15 November 1942, and was the decisive engagement in a series of naval battles...

.

In the rare cases (19 thus far) where a service member has been awarded more than one Medal of Honor, current regulations specify that an appropriate award device be centered on the Medal of Honor ribbon and neck medal. To indicate multiple presentations of the Medal of Honor, the U.S. Army and Air Force bestow oak leaf cluster
Oak leaf cluster
An oak leaf cluster is a common device which is placed on U.S. Army and Air Force awards and decorations to denote those who have received more than one bestowal of a particular decoration. The number of oak leaf clusters typically indicates the number of subsequent awards of the decoration...

s, while the Navy Medal of Honor is worn with gold award star
Award star
An award star is a decoration issued to personnel of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in lieu of multiple awards of the same award. An award star is very similar to an oak leaf cluster, which serves the same purpose in the United States Army and United States Air Force...

s.

A ribbon bar
Ribbon bar
Ribbon bars are small decorations that are worn by military, police, and fire service personnel or by civilians. Ribbon bars are mainly used when wearing either full decoration, or when wearing medals is considered inappropriate or impractical. Each military force has its own rules on what ribbons...

 that is the same shade of light blue as the neckband, and includes five white stars, pointed upwards, in the shape of an "M" is worn for situations other than full dress uniform. When the ribbon is worn, it is placed in the first position (top left when seen on the uniform) in order of precedence. For wear with civilian clothing, a rosette
Rosette (decoration)
A rosette is a small, circular device that is presented with a medal. The rosettes are primarily for situations where wearing the medal is deemed inappropriate. Rosettes are issued in nations such as France, Italy and Japan...

 is issued instead of a miniature lapel pin (which usually shows the ribbon bar). The rosette is the same shade of blue as the neck ribbon and includes white stars. The ribbon and rosette are presented at the same time as the medal.

Flag

On October 23, 2002, was enacted, modifying , authorizing a Medal of Honor flag to be presented to recipients of the decoration.

The flag was based on a concept by retired Army Special Forces First Sergeant Bill Kendall of Jefferson, Iowa
Jefferson, Iowa
Jefferson is a city in Greene County, Iowa, United States, along the North Raccoon River. The population was 4,626 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Greene County. It is the home of the Mahanay Memorial Bell Tower, tall, located on the town square, and visible for miles. The tower is...

, who designed a flag to honor Medal of Honor recipient Captain Darrell Lindsey, a B-26
B-26 Marauder
The Martin B-26 Marauder was a World War II twin-engine medium bomber built by the Glenn L. Martin Company. First used in the Pacific Theater in early 1942, it was also used in the Mediterranean Theater and in Western Europe....

 pilot killed in World War II who was from Jefferson. Kendall's design of a light blue field emblazoned with 13 white five-pointed stars was nearly identical to that of Sarah LeClerc's of the Institute of Heraldry. LeClerc's design, ultimately accepted as the official flag, does not include the words "Medal of Honor" and is fringed in gold. The color of the field and the 13 white stars, arranged in the form of a three bar chevron, consisting of two chevrons of five stars and one chevron of three stars, replicate the Medal of Honor ribbon. The flag has no set proportions.

The first Medal of Honor recipient to receive the official flag was Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith. The flag was cased and presented to his family along with his medal. A special ceremony presenting this flag to 60 Medal of Honor recipients was held onboard on September 30, 2006.

Presenting

There are two distinct protocols for awarding the Medal of Honor. The first and most common is nomination and approval through a service member's chain of command
Chain of Command
Chain of Command may refer to:* Chain of command, in a military context, the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed* "Chain of Command" , the fifth episode of the first season of Beast Wars...

. The second method is nomination by a member of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 (generally at the request of a constituent) and approval by a special act of Congress
Act of Congress
An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by government with a legislature named "Congress," such as the United States Congress or the Congress of the Philippines....

. In both cases, the Medal of Honor is presented by the President on behalf of and in the name of the Congress, as the representatives of the American people.

Evolution of criteria

Several months after President Abraham Lincoln signed Public Resolution 82 into law on December 21, 1861, a similar resolution for the Army was passed. Six Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 soldiers who hijacked the General
Great Locomotive Chase
The Great Locomotive Chase or Andrews' Raid was a military raid that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James J...

, a Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 locomotive
Locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

 were the first recipients. Raid leader James J. Andrews
James J. Andrews
James J. Andrews was a Kentucky civilian who worked for the Union Army during the early years of the American Civil War. He led a daring raid behind enemy lines on the Western and Atlantic Railroad, known famously known as the Great Locomotive Chase...

, a civilian hanged as a Union spy, did not receive the medal. Many Medals of Honor awarded in the 19th century were associated with saving the flag, not just for patriotic reasons, but because the flag was a primary means of battlefield communication. During the time of the Civil War, no other military award was authorized, and to many this explains why some seemingly less notable actions were recognized by the Medal of Honor during that war. The criteria for the award tightened after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In the post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 era, many eligible recipients might instead have been awarded a Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy....

, Navy Cross
Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

 or similar award.

Early in the 20th century, the Navy awarded many Medals of Honor for peacetime bravery. For instance, seven sailors aboard the received the medal when a boiler exploded on January 25, 1904. Aboard the in 1901, John Henry Helms
John Henry Helms
-References:...

 received the medal for saving the ship's cook from drowning. Even after World War I, Richard Byrd
Richard Evelyn Byrd
Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr., USN was a naval officer who specialized in feats of exploration. He was a pioneering American aviator, polar explorer, and organizer of polar logistics...

 and Floyd Bennett
Floyd Bennett
Floyd Bennett was an American aviator who piloted Richard E. Byrd on his attempt to reach the North Pole in 1926.-Biography:...

 received the medal for exploration of the North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

.
Thomas J. Ryan
Thomas J. Ryan (admiral)
Rear Admiral Thomas John Ryan, Jr. was a career American naval officer who received the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military decoration, for his actions while in Yokohama, Japan during the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake...

 received it for saving a woman from the burning Grand Hotel in Yokohama
Yokohama
is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan by population after Tokyo and most populous municipality of Japan. It lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo, in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshu...

, Japan following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake.

Between 1919 and 1942, the Navy issued two separate versions of the Medal of Honor, one for non-combat bravery and the other for combat related acts. Official accounts vary, but generally the combat Medal of Honor was known as the Tiffany Cross, after the company that designed the medal
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. is an American jewelry and silverware company. As part of its branding, the company is strongly associated with its Tiffany Blue , which is a registered trademark.- History :...

. The Tiffany Cross was first awarded in 1919, but was unpopular, partly because design, while noncombat awards remained the previous version., there were two awards of the Tiffany Cross Medal of Honor for non-combat to Commander, later Rear Admiral Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett for their flight over the North Pole in 1926, as authorized by a special act of congress.
As a result, in 1942, the United States Navy reverted to a single Medal of Honor, awarded only for heroism.
Since the beginning of World War II, the medal has been awarded for extreme bravery beyond the call of duty while engaged in action against an enemy. Arising from these criteria, approximately 60 percent of the medals earned during and after World War II have been awarded posthumously. Capt. William McGonagle
William McGonagle
William Loren McGonagle was a United States Naval officer who received the Medal of Honor for his actions while in command of the when it was attacked in the Eastern Mediterranean on June 8, 1967 during the Six-Day War.After accepting a commission in the US Navy in 1944 McGonagle held various...

 is an exception to the enemy action rule, receiving his medal for his actions during the USS Liberty incident
USS Liberty incident
The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a United States Navy technical research ship, , by Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy torpedo boats, on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War. The combined air and sea attack killed 34 crew members , wounded 170 crew members, and...

.

Authority and privileges

The U.S. Army Medal of Honor was first authorized by a joint resolution of Congress on July 12, 1862. The specific authorizing statute was , which states:
Later authorizations created similar medals for other branches of the service.

Privileges and courtesies

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 . Each person whose name is placed on the Medal of Honor Roll is certified to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
    United States Department of Veterans Affairs
    The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

     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 2011, it is $1,194 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.
  • Special identification cards and commissary and exchange privileges are provided for Medal of Honor recipients and their eligible dependents.
  • Eligibility for interment at Arlington National Cemetery
    Arlington National Cemetery
    Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

     if not otherwise eligible.
  • Fully qualified children of recipients are eligible for admission to the United States military academies without regard to the nomination and quota requirements.
  • Recipients receive a 10 percent increase in retired pay under .
  • 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 inaugurations and inaugural balls
    United States presidential inaugural balls
    United States presidential inaugural balls are large social gatherings, both white tie and black tie, held to celebrate the commencement of a new term of the President of the United States. Planned and sanctioned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the official inaugural balls occur throughout...

    .
  • 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.
  • Many states offer distinctive Medal of Honor vehicle license plates to recipients without additional charges or fees.

Saluting

  • Although not required by law or military regulation, members of the uniformed services
    Uniformed services of the United States
    The United States has seven federal uniformed services that commission officers as defined by Title 10, and subsequently structured and organized by Title 10, Title 14, Title 33 and Title 42 of the United States Code.-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.

Legal protection

Until late 2006, the Medal of Honor was the only service decoration afforded special protection under federal law to prevent it from being imitated or privately sold. The Stolen Valor Act of 2005
Stolen Valor Act of 2005
The Stolen Valor Act of 2005, signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 20, 2006, is a U.S. law that broadens the provisions of previous U.S. law addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, or sale of any military decorations and medals. It makes it a federal misdemeanor offense to...

, enacted December 20, 2006 but later ruled to be unconstitutional, extended federal protection to include false verbal, written, or physical claims to other military decorations, service medals, or military badges to which a person is not entitled. In 2010, in a 2-1 majority decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Stolen Valor Act was unconstitutional. It stated that the Act was a violation of free speech because it did not fall within one of the previously announced exceptions to free speech, and the speech it proscribed was, therefore, protected speech. The Court went on to find that there was no evidence that the lies it prohibited harmed anyone and the government had no compelling reason to ban such lies. The dissenting judge, Jay Bybee
Jay Bybee
Jay Scott Bybee is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He has published numerous articles in law journals and taught law school; his primary interests are in constitutional and administrative law....

, commented that the majority refused to follow precedent. He argued that false statements of fact are not entitled to First Amendment protection because they do not contribute to the "marketplace of ideas
Marketplace of ideas
The "marketplace of ideas" is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market. The "marketplace of ideas" belief holds that the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in free, transparent public discourse, an...

" and such statements could be prohibited based on a simple balancing test, weighing the interests of prohibiting such statements versus the interests of letting them be made.

The Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 issues all Medals of Honor to recipients in the original only. A duplicate medal (marked as such) may be issued, free of charge, to replace a lost, destroyed or stolen one upon written application, subject to approval of the service secretary. Misuse of the medal, including unauthorized manufacture or wear, is punishable by a fine up to $100,000 and imprisonment up to one year pursuant to . After the Army redesigned its medal in 1903, a patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 was issued to legally prevent others from making the medal. When the patent expired, the Federal government enacted a law making it illegal to produce, wear, or distribute the Medal of Honor without proper authority. A number of veterans' organizations and private companies devote themselves to exposing those who falsely claim to have received the Medal of Honor.

Enforcement

HLI Lordship Industries Inc., a former Medal of Honor contractor, was fined in 1996 for selling 300 fake medals for US $75 each.

In that year, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, resident Jackie Stern was convicted of wearing a medal to which he was not entitled; instead of six months in jail, a federal judge sentenced him to serve one year's probation and to write a letter of apology to each of the then living 171 recipients of the medal; the letter was published in the local newspaper.

In 2003, Edward Fedora and Gisela Fedora were charged with violating , Unlawful Sale of a Medal of Honor, for selling medals awarded to U.S. Navy Sailor Robert Blume (for action in the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

) and to U.S. Army First Sergeant George Washington Roosevelt (for action in the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

) to an FBI agent. Edward Fedora, a Canadian businessman, plead guilty and was sentenced to prison.

Recipients

By conflict
Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

1,522  Indian Wars
Indian Wars
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who...

426
Korean Expedition
Sinmiyangyo
The United States expedition to Korea, the Shinmiyangyo, or simply the Korean Expedition, in 1871, was the first American military action in Korea. It took place predominantly on and around the Korean island of Ganghwa...

15  Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

110
Samoan Civil War
Samoan Civil War
The First Samoan Civil War refers to the conflict between rival Samoan factions in the Samoan Islands of the South Pacific. The war was fought roughly between 1886 and 1894, primarily between Samoans though the German military intervened on several occasions. The United States and the United...

Philippine-American War
Philippine-American War
The Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection , was an armed conflict between a group of Filipino revolutionaries and the United States which arose from the struggle of the First Philippine Republic to gain independence following...

86
Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

59  Mexican Expedition 56
Haiti (1915–1934) Dominican Republic Occupation  3
World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

124  Occupation of Nicaragua
Occupation of Nicaragua
The United States occupation of Nicaragua was part of the larger conflict known as the Banana Wars. The formal occupation began in 1912, although several other operations were conducted before the full scale invasion. United States military interventions in Nicaragua were intended to prevent the...

2
World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

464  Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

135
Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

246  USS Liberty incident
USS Liberty incident
The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a United States Navy technical research ship, , by Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy torpedo boats, on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War. The combined air and sea attack killed 34 crew members , wounded 170 crew members, and...

1
Battle of Mogadishu Iraq War 4
Afghanistan War
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

Peace
Peace
Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

time
193
Unknown soldiers
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier refers to a grave in which the unidentifiable remains of a soldier are interred. Such tombs can be found in many nations and are usually high-profile national monuments. Throughout history, many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified...

 



In total, 3475 medals have been awarded to 3456 different people. Nineteen men received a second award: 14 of these received two separate medals for two separate actions, and five received both the Navy and the Army Medals of Honor for the same action. For actions since the beginning of World War II, 861 Medals of Honor have been awarded, 530 (or 62%) posthumously. In total, 627 of the medals have been awarded posthumously.

The largest collective group in the US Military awarded the Medal of Honor with 22 medals are United States Navy Hospital Corpsmen.
By branch of service
Service Awards
Army 2411
Navy 747
Marines 298
Air Force 18
Coast Guard 1

The first Army Medal of Honor was awarded to Private Jacob Parrott
Jacob Parrott
Jacob Wilson Parrott was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor, a new military award first presented by the United States Department of War to several soldiers for their participation in the Great Locomotive Chase....

 during the American Civil War for his role in the Andrews Raid. The only female Medal of Honor recipient is Mary Edwards Walker
Mary Edwards Walker
Mary Edwards Walker was an American feminist, abolitionist, prohibitionist, alleged spy, prisoner of war and surgeon. She is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor....

, a Civil War surgeon. Her medal was rescinded in 1917 along with many other non-combat awards, but it was restored by President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 in 1977 (see Evolution of Criteria, above).

While current regulations, , beginning in 1918, explicitly state that recipients must be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces at the time of performing a valorous act that warrants the award, exceptions have been made. For example, Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.Lindbergh, a 25-year-old U.S...

, while a reserve member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, received his Medal of Honor as a civilian pilot. In addition, the Medal of Honor was presented to the British Unknown Warrior
The Unknown Warrior
The British tomb of The Unknown Warrior holds an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920, simultaneously with a similar interrment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in...

 by General Pershing
John J. Pershing
John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

 on October 17, 1921. On November 11, 1921, the U.S. Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknowns
The Tomb of the Unknowns is a monument dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified. It is located in Arlington National Cemetery in the United States...

 was reciprocally awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, the British military's highest award for valor. Apart from these few exceptions, Medals of Honor can only be awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces—although being a U.S. citizen is not a prerequisite. Sixty-one Canadians
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 who were serving in the United States armed forces have been awarded the Medal of Honor, with a majority awarded for actions in the American Civil War. Since 1900, only four have been awarded to Canadians. In the Vietnam War, Peter C. Lemon
Peter C. Lemon
Peter Charles Lemon is a former United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. He received the award for his actions on April 1, 1970 while serving in Tay Ninh province during the Vietnam War. Lemon is the only Canadian born U.S....

 was the only Canadian recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Double recipients

Nineteen men have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice. Five of these men were awarded both the Army and Navy Medal of Honor for the same action. Since February 1919, no single individual can be awarded more than one Medal of Honor for the same action although a member of one branch of the armed forces can receive the Medal of Honor from another branch, if the actions for which it was awarded were under the authority of the said branch. The maximum number of Medals of Honor earned by any service member has been two.
§ Rank refers to rank held at time of Medal of Honor action.

Post-Vietnam

For actions occurring since the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam in 1973, the Medal of Honor has been awarded twelve times, nine of them posthumously. The first two were earned by Delta Force
Delta Force
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

 snipers Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart
Randy Shughart
Sergeant First Class Randall David Shughart was a soldier in the United States Army special operations unit, the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta , or "Delta Force." Shughart posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in October...

 and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon
Gary Gordon
Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon is a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. At the time of his death, he was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army's premiere special operations unit, the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta , or "Delta Force." Together with Sergeant...

, who defended downed Black Hawk helicopter pilot Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant
Michael Durant
Michael J. "Mike" Durant is an American pilot and author who was held prisoner for eleven days in 1993 after a raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment as a Chief Warrant Officer 3...

 and his crew during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. Both men lost their lives in doing so.

From the end of the Vietnam War until 2010, no living person received the Medal of Honor for actions in an ongoing conflict. This affected the number of living holders with fewer than 100 recipients still alive in 2010. The Army Times
Army Times
Army Times is a weekly newspaper serving active, reserve, guard and retired United States Army personnel and their families, providing news, information and analysis as well as community and lifestyle features, educational supplements, and resource guides.Army Times is published by the Gannett...

published an article analyzing the lack of non-posthumous awards in its March 30, 2009 issue, before the September 2010 award to Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta is a retired Italian football player who played for, among others, AC Milan and Albacete Balompié, as well as the Italian under-21 side.Giunta played for AS Cannes in French Ligue 2 during the 1998-99 season....

. It was suggested that because of the intense partisan politics in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 over these wars, the Bush Administration subjected potential Medal of Honor recipients to intense background checks so as to avoid scrutiny, from political opponents, of both the administration and the recipient.

Four servicemen were awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in the Iraq War: Army Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith
Paul Ray Smith
Paul Ray Smith was a United States Army Sergeant First Class who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom...

, Army Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis
Ross A. McGinnis
Ross Andrew McGinnis was a soldier who served in the United States Army during the Iraq War and was posthumously awarded the United States' highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor. While serving as the gunner in a HMMWV, his convoy was attacked and a hand grenade was thrown into his...

, Marine Corps Corporal Jason Dunham
Jason Dunham
Jason Lee Dunham was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps who earned the Medal of Honor while serving with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines during the Iraq War. While on a patrol in Husaybah, his unit was attacked and he deliberately covered an enemy grenade to save nearby Marines...

 and Navy SEAL, Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael A. Monsoor
Michael A. Monsoor
Michael Anthony Monsoor was a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during the Iraq War and posthumously received the Medal of Honor. Monsoor enlisted in the United States Navy in 2001 and graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 2004...

. In April 2003, Smith organized the defense of a prisoner of war holding area that was attacked by a company-sized Iraqi force, personally manning a machine gun under fire until being killed. The remaining three medals were awarded for falling on a grenade
Falling on a grenade
Falling on a grenade refers to the deliberate act of using one's body to cover a live time-fused hand grenade, absorbing the explosion and fragmentation in an effort to save the lives of others nearby...

; Dunham threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow Marines in an April 2004 mission, McGinnis covered a grenade which was tossed into his vehicle while on a mounted patrol in December 2006, and Monsoor jumped on a grenade which was thrown in the midst of his SEAL sniper team in September 2006.

Six medals have been awarded for action in Afghanistan. The recipients were Navy SEAL
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

 Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy
Michael P. Murphy
Michael Patrick Murphy was a United States Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in 2005 during the War in Afghanistan. He was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan; and the first member of...

, Army Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti
Jared C. Monti
Jared Christopher Monti was a soldier in the United States Army who received the United States military's highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in Afghanistan....

, Army Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller
Robert James Miller
Robert James Miller of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group was a United States Army Special Forces soldier who posthumously received the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony on 6 October 2010....

, Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta is a retired Italian football player who played for, among others, AC Milan and Albacete Balompié, as well as the Italian under-21 side.Giunta played for AS Cannes in French Ligue 2 during the 1998-99 season....

, Army Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry
Leroy Petry
Leroy Arthur Petry is a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army and recipient of the Medal of Honor. Petry was nominated for The Medal for his actions during a firefight in Afghanistan as a Staff Sergeant in the 2nd Ranger Battalion...

, and Marine Corps Corporal Dakota Meyer
Dakota Meyer
Dakota L. Meyer is a United States Marine Corps veteran and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Ganjgal on September 8, 2009, part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kunar province, Afghanistan...

. Murphy received the award for exposing himself to hostile fire in order to make a call for help after his SEAL team was attacked in June 2005. Monti's award was for braving intense fire in an attempt to rescue a wounded soldier in a June 2006 engagement. Miller's medal was for his actions during a January 2008 attack by a numerically superior force. Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta
Salvatore Giunta is a retired Italian football player who played for, among others, AC Milan and Albacete Balompié, as well as the Italian under-21 side.Giunta played for AS Cannes in French Ligue 2 during the 1998-99 season....

 was the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam for his actions during a firefight on October 25, 2007, in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry
Leroy Petry
Leroy Arthur Petry is a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army and recipient of the Medal of Honor. Petry was nominated for The Medal for his actions during a firefight in Afghanistan as a Staff Sergeant in the 2nd Ranger Battalion...

 became the second living recipient from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars when he received the medal for picking up a live grenade on May 26, 2008. On September 15, 2011, Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer
Dakota Meyer
Dakota L. Meyer is a United States Marine Corps veteran and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Ganjgal on September 8, 2009, part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kunar province, Afghanistan...

 received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the 2009 Battle of Ganjgal
Battle of Ganjgal
The Battle of Ganjgal was a battle in the War in Afghanistan fought between US/Afghan forces and the Taliban in the Kunar Province on September 8, 2009. Complaints that the coalition casualties were avoidable and caused by a failure of the chain of command to provide fire support for the team...

, becoming the first living U.S. Marine in 41 years to be so honored.

Since 1979, 49 belated awardings of the medal have been made to recognize actions from the Civil War to Vietnam. The most recent of these occurred on May 2, 2011, when President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to two Army soldiers killed in the Korean War, Private First Class Henry Svehla
Henry Svehla
Henry Svehla was a United States Army soldier who on May 2, 2011 was posthumously awarded the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War...

 and Private First Class Anthony T. Kahoʻohanohano
Anthony T. Kahoʻohanohano
Anthony T. Kahoohanohano was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War.-Early life and family:...

. Prior to that, the medal was presented to Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Richard Etchberger
Richard Etchberger
Richard Loy Etchberger was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force who posthumously received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Battle of Lima Site 85 in the Vietnam War...

 who was killed during the Battle of Lima Site 85
Battle of Lima Site 85
The Battle of Lima Site 85, also called Battle of Phou Pha Thi, was fought as part of a military campaign waged during the Vietnam War and Laotian Civil War by the Vietnam People’s Army and the Pathet Lao, against airmen of the United States Air Force 1st Combat Evaluation Group, elements of the ...

 in the Vietnam War.

27th Maine and other revoked awardings

During the Civil War, Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin McMasters Stanton was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln Administration during the American Civil War from 1862–1865...

 promised a Medal of Honor to every man in the 27th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment who extended his enlistment beyond the agreed upon date. The Battle of Gettysburg was imminent and 311 men of the regiment volunteered to serve until the battle was resolved. The remaining men returned to Maine but with the Union victory at Gettysburg the 311 volunteers soon followed. The volunteers arrived back in Maine in time to be discharged with the men who had earlier returned. Since there seemed to be no official list of the 311 volunteers, the War Department
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

 exacerbated the situation by forwarding 864 medals to the commanding officer of the regiment. The commanding officer only issued medals to the volunteers who stayed behind and retained the others on the grounds if he returned the remainder to the War Department, the War Department would try to reissue the medals.

In 1916, a board of five generals on the retired list convened by law to review every Army Medal of Honor awarded. The board was to report on any Medals of Honor awarded or issued for any cause other than distinguished service. The commission, led by Nelson Miles, identified 911 awards for causes other than distinguished service. This included the 864 medals awarded to members of the 27th Maine, 29 who served as Abraham Lincoln's funeral guard, six civilians (including Dr. Mary Edwards Walker
Mary Edwards Walker
Mary Edwards Walker was an American feminist, abolitionist, prohibitionist, alleged spy, prisoner of war and surgeon. She is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor....

, the only woman to have been awarded the medal, and Buffalo Bill Cody
Buffalo Bill
William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody was a United States soldier, bison hunter and showman. He was born in the Iowa Territory , in LeClaire but lived several years in Canada before his family moved to the Kansas Territory. Buffalo Bill received the Medal of Honor in 1872 for service to the US...

), as well as 12 others. Dr. Walker's medal was restored by President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 in 1977. Cody and four other civilian scouts who rendered distinguished service action and who were considered by the board to have fully earned their medals had theirs restored in 1989. The report was endorsed by the Judge Advocate General
Judge Advocate General's Corps
Judge Advocate General's Corps, also known as JAG or JAG Corps, refers to the legal branch or specialty of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Navy. Officers serving in the JAG Corps are typically called Judge Advocates. The Marine Corps and Coast Guard do not maintain separate JAG Corps...

 who advised that the War Department should not seek the return of the medals from the recipients identified by the board. In the case of recipients who continued to wear the medal the War Department was advised to take no action to enforce the statute.

Past racial discrimination

A 1993 study commissioned by the Army investigated racial discrimination in the awarding of medals. At the time, no Medals of Honor had been awarded to black soldiers who served in World War II. After an exhaustive review of files, the study recommended that several black Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree...

 recipients be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. On January 13, 1997, President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 awarded the medal to seven African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 World War II veterans. With the passing of Vernon Baker
Vernon Baker
Vernon Joseph Baker was a United States Army officer who received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II...

, all of these recipients have now died.

A similar study of Asian American
Asian American
Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The U.S. Census Bureau definition of Asians as "Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,...

s in 1998 resulted in President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 awarding 21 new Medals of Honor in 2000, including 20 to Japanese American
Japanese American
are American people of Japanese heritage. Japanese Americans have historically been among the three largest Asian American communities, but in recent decades have become the sixth largest group at roughly 1,204,205, including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity...

 members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team
442nd Regimental Combat Team
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army, was composed of Japanese-American enlisted men and mostly Caucasian officers. They fought primarily in Europe during World War II, beginning in 1944. The families of many of its soldiers were subject to internment...

, among them Senator Daniel Inouye
Daniel Inouye
Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye is the senior United States Senator from Hawaii, a member of the Democratic Party, and the President pro tempore of the United States Senate making him the highest-ranking Asian American politician in American history. Inouye is the chairman of the United States Senate...

. In 2005, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 awarded the Medal of Honor to Jewish veteran and Holocaust survivor Tibor Rubin
Tibor Rubin
Tibor "Ted" Rubin is a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the United States in 1948 and received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Korean War by President George W. Bush on September 23, 2005...

, whom many believed to have been overlooked because of his religion.

Similar decorations within the United States

The following United States decorations bear similar names to the Medal of Honor, but are separate awards with different criteria for issuance.
  • Cardenas Medal of Honor
    Cardenas Medal of Honor
    The Cardenas Medal of Honor was a decoration of the Revenue Cutter Service which was established by an act of Congress in the year 1900. The decoration recognizes the crew of the Revenue Cutter Hudson, who showed gallantry in action during the Spanish-American War.The citation awarding the medal...

    : decoration of the Revenue Cutter Service, merged into the United States Coast Guard
    United States Coast Guard
    The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

  • Chaplain's Medal for Heroism
    Chaplain's Medal for Heroism
    The Chaplain's Medal for Heroism is a decoration of the United States Congress which was authorized by an act of Congress on July 14, 1960. Also known as the Chaplain's Medal of Honor and the Four Chaplains' Medal, the decoration commemorates the actions of the Four Chaplains who gave their lives...

    : awarded posthumously for a single action to four recipients
    Four Chaplains
    The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Chaplains," were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel during the sinking of the troop ship USAT Dorchester during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats...

  • Congressional Gold Medal: the highest civilian honor (along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom)
  • Congressional Space Medal of Honor
    Congressional Space Medal of Honor
    The Congressional Space Medal of Honor was authorized by the United States Congress in 1969 to recognize "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind." The highest award...

    : for astronauts but despite its name, not equal to the Medal of Honor
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
    Presidential Medal of Freedom
    The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

    : the highest civilian honor (along with the Congressional Gold Medal)
  • The Southern Cross of Honor
    Southern Cross of Honor
    The Southern Cross of Honor is the name of two separate and distinct military honors presented to Confederate military personnel and veterans. The original wartime medal, aka Confederate Medal of Honor, was a military decoration meant to honor officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for...

     was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America
    Confederate States of America
    The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

     during the American Civil War
    American Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

    . It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States
    Congress of the Confederate States
    The Congress of the Confederate States was the legislative body of the Confederate States of America, existing during the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865...

     on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Army's Medal of Honor.


Several United States law enforcement decorations
United States law enforcement decorations
United States law enforcement decorations are awarded by the police forces of the United States of America. Since the United States has a decentralized police force, with separate independent departments existing on the state and local level, there are literally thousands of law enforcement...

 bear the name "Medal of Honor". The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor is the highest decoration for bravery performed by public safety officers in the United States, comparable to the military's Medal of Honor.- History :...

, established by Congress in 2001, "the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer", is awarded by the President.

See also

  • Distinguished Intelligence Cross
    Distinguished Intelligence Cross
    The Distinguished Intelligence Cross is awarded by the Central Intelligence Agency for "a voluntary act or acts of extraordinary heroism involving the acceptance of existing dangers with conspicuous fortitude and exemplary courage." This award is the CIA's equivalent to the Medal of Honor and like...

  • Kentucky Medal of Honor Memorial
  • Medal of Honor Memorial (Indianapolis)
  • Texas Medal of Honor Memorial
    Texas Medal of Honor Memorial
    The Texas Medal of Honor Memorial is a statue commemorating recipients of the Medal of Honor from the state of Texas. Sculpted by Doyle Glass and Scott Boyer, it was dedicated on Memorial Day of 2008 and is located in Midland, Texas, at the Commemorative Air Force International Headquarters. The...


External links

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