Next National Medal of Honor DayMonday, 25 March 2024
National Medal of Honor Day is observed on March 25 every year and it honors the recipients of the United States' most prestigious military decoration, and the highest award someone in the American army can receive.
The President of the United States awards the Medal of Honor in the name of the United States Congress to those who have distinguished themselves through acts of valor.
The Medal of Honor is also unofficially known as the Congressional Medal of Honor. This military decoration was first signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. It is a permanent decoration that any member of the United States military can receive, and is awarded to any person who distinguishes themselves in combat at risk of life beyond the call of duty.
History of National Medal of Honor Day
The idea of a medal of valor was first proposed in 1861 during the start of the Civil War. However, the general-in-chief did not approve of this because he thought that the idea was too European.
After his retirement in late 1861, the General of the Navy thought that it was a good proposal and implemented the idea. They soon ordered around 200 medals from a mint in Philadelphia.
President Abraham Lincoln approved and made the US Navy Medal of Valor official in December 1861. The US Army Medal of Honor was also approved less than a year after this.
On November 15, 1990, George HW Bush signed a law that officially established March 25 as National Medal of Honor Day, to be observed annually. The first National Medal of Honor Day was commemorated in 1991.
National Medal of Honor recipients
March 25 was chosen as the date to celebrate National Medal of Honor Day, in honor of the men who took part in the Great Locomotive Chase during the American Civil War. Six of those men were the first recipients of the Medal of Honor, which was awarded to them on March 25, 1863.
There are three different variants of the Medal of Honor, one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy. Coast Guard members and Marines can also receive the Navy Medal of Honor.
As of 2020, there have been 3,507 Medals of Honor awarded to those who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor, 618 of which were awarded posthumously. Only one woman has ever received the Medal of Honor: Mary Edwards Walker, a doctor who volunteered as a surgeon in the Army during the Civil War.
Willie Johnston is the youngest recipient of the National Medal of Honor to date. At the age of 11, he showed bravery by being the only drummer boy who carried his instrument during the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. Other drummers dropped their instruments during the retreat to reduce their load.
Unlike other military distinctions, the Medal of Honor is not pinned on the recipient, but it is worn around the neck. It is illegal to wear someone else's Medal of Honor.
National Medal of Honor Day celebration
There may be some official events for National Medal of Honor Day happening near you, organized by the military, state, or local organizations, in honor of all those who have been awarded the Medal of Honor. You can participate in such events.
If a Medal of Honor recipient is buried where you live, get a group of people together and "Adopt a Grave". This ensures that their efforts are not forgotten and that someone will keep paying their respects and adorning their grave.
Spread the word about National Medal of Honor Day through social media, by informing the local news source, or by organizing your own event in your town. Use hashtag #NationalMedalOfHonorDay to post on social media.
Write to a Medal of Honor recipient thanking them for their service.