Established during the Civil War in 1862, the Medal of honor is the highest award an American can receive. Since it has been put into use, it has been awarded 3,486 times, with some people receiving it twice. While it may be the most recognizable of the military awards, there are several surprising and shocking facts you may not know about this incredible award.
The Medal of Honor is often referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. This award however, does not in fact exist. While the president does say “in the name of congress” when he presents the medal, it is still in fact only referred to as the Medal of Honor. While the award has been presented thousands of times, only one woman has only received this prestigious honor. For her work volunteering for the Union Army during the Civil War, Mary Edwards Walker was awarded it for her work as the military’s first female surgeon by President Andrew Johnson. In 1917 however, the military reviewed their Medal of Honor records and revoked her medal. It wasn’t until 19677 when President Jimmy Carter reinstated her recognition for her work during the war.
Children have even had the unique honor of earning this incredible award. One of the many recipients for service during the Civil War, Willie Johnston who was 11-years old at the time, followed his father into battle as the drummer boy in the 3rd Vermont Infantry. With soldiers dropping gear throughout the battle against a strong Confederate force, Johnston held on to his drum throughout the entire fight. When he was 13 in 1863, he was officially granted his award by President Abraham Lincoln.
Did you know only one president has received the Medal of Honor? Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the medal by President Bill Clinton in 2001 for his honorable service to his nation in the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War and his other contributions during conflicts with Cuba. Did you also know it is illegal to wear someone else’s Medal of Honor? You can however pretend to have one, due to legislation that was struck down in 2012 that originally made it illegal to do so.
The most prestigious award in the military, the Medal of Honor carries a great deal of respect with it. If you meet someone who has one, thank them for their service and maybe ask them about how they received this incredible award.