Medal of Honor

 

Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure if they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.

Carl Sandburg

Medal of Honor

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.    For years I have been writing about Medal of Honor recipients.  In October of this year Honolulu is going to host a Medal of Honor convention.  It will be the largest gathering of living Medal of Honor recipients to ever gather in one place, and in all likelihood because of the age of the recipients the last time this many Medal of Honor recipients will be together in one place.

My job at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific has allowed me to help host President Obama, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, the Presidents of South Korea, China and the Prime Minister of Australia.

For me, helping to host the fifty three Medal of Honor recipients will far outshine any of the other dignitaries I have helped to host.

There will be four recipients from World War II, seven from Korea, forty from Vietnam and two from Afghanistan.  A total of fifty three recipients.

On July 14, 1862  President Abraham Lincoln signed S.J.R. No 82 into law as 12 Stat. 623-624.  It was on that day the Army Medal of Honor was born. It read in part:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause two thousand “medals of honor” to be prepared with suitable emblematic devices, and to direct that the same be presented, in the name of the Congress, 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 (Civil War).

At the time of this article being written the Medal of Honor has been awarded only 3,459 times to 3,440 recipients, almost half of them Civil War soldiers. (There have been 19 double recipients.) More than half of those who have received the Medal of Honor did not survive the action for which it was awarded.

The Medal of Honor sets specific provisions for recipients. At least two eyewitnesses must provide “incontestable evidence” to a deed that proves to “be so outstanding, that it clearly distinguishes gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery, involve the risk of life, and be the type of deed, which, if not done, would not subject the recipient to any unjustified criticism.”

There is much more to say about the Medal of Honor and I will be sharing it with you over the next few weeks.

 

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