America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan

America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan

America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan

America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan

Synopsis

Since the Medal of Honor was authorized, less than 3,500 Americans have received this honor for valor ôat the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.ö Every recipient of the Medal of Honor-our nation's highest military commendation-is permanently honored in the Hall of Heroes display inside the Pentagon.

Excerpt

The Medal of Honor is the ultimate symbol of courage and valor under fire and is awarded to only the bravest of the brave; it is an object of awe and veneration. More than 40 million men and women have served in the armed forces of the United States since the Continental Army was formed in 1775, but fewer than 3,500 men and one woman have been awarded the Medal of Honor. This rare honor is bestowed only upon those who have shown conspicuous bravery “above and beyond the call of duty.” It is such an extraordinary honor that President Harry S. Truman, himself a soldier in World War I, reportedly said on several occasions, “I’d rather wear that medal than be President of the United States.”

The Medal of Honor is the epitome of valor and selfless service, and many who received the medal made the supreme sacrifice—giving their lives—in that service. The recipients of the Medal of Honor are officers and enlisted men from all branches of the service. They come from all walks of life and from many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures; they come from all over the country, and even some foreign lands. They come from every armed service and have seen action in America’s wars from the Civil War to Afghanistan. Despite all these differences, the recipients of the Medal of Honor all share one thing in common. At some point in their lives, they selflessly performed extraordinarily courageous acts in the face of almost insurmountable odds—deeds that were clearly “above and beyond the call of duty.”

The recipients of the Medal of Honor are admired and looked upon as the best America has to offer, but none of them sought recognition. Those who survived to accept the medal, more oft en than not, accepted it in honor of their comrades who fought and sometimes died in the defense of their nation. Perhaps Canadianborn Peter Lemon, who received the medal for valor in Vietnam, summed up this idea best when he told a group of young students, “Whenever you see the Medal, you see millions of people out there who have given their service and sacrificed for your freedom.”

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