Friday, March 21, 2014

The Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor Day is celebrated each year on March 25th, a fact I likely would not have known if I hadn’t stopped to buy stamps recently at the Post Office. I liked the look of the Medal of Honor stamp that the Post Office recently issued, and bought the very last sheet that they had.

There are actually three different designs for the Medal of Honor, which is the highest award for valor in the Armed Services of the United States. The Army, Navy, and Air Force have their own distinct medals, and the Marines receive the Navy version of the medal.

The Navy version is shown below:

The official website for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society can be found at the link below:

Congressional Medal of Honor Society

The Medal of Honor was created in 1861, early in the American Civil War, to give recognition to men who distinguished themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity" in combat with an enemy of the United States. Up until very recently, there were 3468 recipients of the medal, and more than half were presented to participants in the Civil War. Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge.

Just a few days ago, President Obama presented 24 Medals of Honor to 24 vets, but 21 of those medals were awarded posthumously. The three surviving veterans were Jose Rodela, Mevlin Morris, and Santiago Erevia, all of whom were Vietnam vets. All 24 of the vets who qualified for the medal were ethnic or minority troops (Hispanics, Jews, and African-Americans) and may have been overlooked previously due to their minority status.

I served my time in the military during the Vietnam War, but six years in the National Guard was pretty easy duty compared to what the 24 vets who were recently honored endured.

When you run into a vet today, the least you can do is to tell him “thanks”, even if all he did was serve in the motor pool. He’s still helping to defend our freedom, and ALL of our vets deserve better treatment than the returning G.I.’s got in 1975, as the war in Vietnam finally came to a close.

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