National Medal of Honor Day, March 25

By Faye Higbee

Today is National Medal of Honor Day. It was March 25, 1863 that the first Medals of Honor were given. More than 3,500 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen have received the honor for extraordinary heroism and sacrifice.

Only one woman in the history of the medal has ever received the MOH: Dr Mary Walker received it in 1865 for her work as a surgeon. The medal was rescinded in 1917, but restored in 1977.

Originally, the medal was given only to enlisted members. In 1863 it was extended to officers.

There are three different medals – Army, Navy, and Air Force. The US Marine Corps and Coast Guard are given the Naval Medal of Honor.

Twenty-Seven Medals of Honor were given for the Battle of Iwo Jima. The extraordinary heroism of US Marines in a hellhole in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a testament to the reasons for a Medal of Honor. One living MOH recipient from that battle is Herbert “Woody” Williams, whom we have written about before. He wishes to help younger generations understand patriotism and sacrifice.

The first Black MOH recipient of the Vietnam War was Milton L Olive III.

The Daily Herald reported that MOH recipient Allen J. Lynch was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. He risked his life to rescue three wounded troops, and then refused to retreat, defending his position against an advancing enemy with only his rifle and a grenade. He, too has a message for the younger generation:

“I think Medal of Honor Day is special for a number of reasons. It brings attention to the men and women of the Armed Forces. It’s a way of recognizing their courage, sacrifice, and service to our nation. It lets our citizens know that their freedom is not free, someone pays for that every single day. Sadly, there are those that don’t seem to understand that one simple concept.”

Allen Lynch

There a just 72 living MOH recipients. Let’s not relegate them to the musty pages of history. Let’s thank all who serve in the military, and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of others.

Featured photo via Twitter