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The Medal of Honor is the highest award for bravery that can be given to any individual in the United States. In judging men and women for receipt of the medal, each service has established its own regulations.
U.S. Marines /  Navy Medal of Honor
Marines / Navy
U.S. Army Medal of Honor
Army
U.S. Air Force Medal of Honor
Air Force

The idea for the Medal of Honor was born during the Civil War as men fought gallantly, often displaying great heroism. Gen. George Washington had originated the Purple Heart in 1782 to honor brave soldiers, sailors and marines.

From that time until the Civil War, certificates of merit and a "brevet" system of promotions were used as military awards. The first military decoration formally authorized by the American government as a badge of valor was the Medal of Honor for enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps. It was authorized by Congress and approved by President Abraham Lincoln Dec. 21, 1861. The Medal for the Army and Voluntary Forces was authorized July 12, 1862.

The Medal is awarded "in the name of the Congress of the United States," and for this reason, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was only on rare occasions, however, that Congress awarded special Medals of Honor. An executive order, signed Sept. 20, 1905, by President Theodore Roosevelt directed that the ceremonies of award "will always be made with formal and impressive ceremonial" and that the recipient "will, when practicable, be ordered to Washington, D.C., and the presentation will be made by the President, as Commander-in-Chief, or by such representative as the President may designate."

Medal of Honor CitationCriteria for Award

The Medal of Honor, established by joint resolution of Congress, July 12, 1862, (amended by Act of July 9, 1918, and Act of July 25, 1963) is awarded in the name of Congress to a person, who, while a member of the armed forces, distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The deed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice, an action that conspicuously distinguished the individual above his comrades. Incontestable proof of the performance of service is exacted and the recommendation for award of this decoration is considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

Eligibility is limited to members of the armed forces of the United States in active military service.

Provided by... Military District of Washington

Medal of Honor Recipients  |  Poem > America's Greatest Heroes  Reference

Note... Remember to honor all of them on March 25th, designated by Congress as National Medal of Honor Day.

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