What is the Medal of Honor?

Thomas' Legion
American Civil War HOMEPAGE
American Civil War
Causes of the Civil War : What Caused the Civil War
Organization of Union and Confederate Armies: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery
Civil War Navy: Union Navy and Confederate Navy
American Civil War: The Soldier's Life
Civil War Turning Points
American Civil War: Casualties, Battles and Battlefields
Civil War Casualties, Fatalities & Statistics
Civil War Generals
American Civil War Desertion and Deserters: Union and Confederate
Civil War Prisoner of War: Union and Confederate Prison History
Civil War Reconstruction Era and Aftermath
American Civil War Genealogy and Research
Civil War
American Civil War Pictures - Photographs
African Americans and American Civil War History
American Civil War Store
American Civil War Polls
North Carolina Civil War History
North Carolina American Civil War Statistics, Battles, History
North Carolina Civil War History and Battles
North Carolina Civil War Regiments and Battles
North Carolina Coast: American Civil War
Western North Carolina and the American Civil War
Western North Carolina: Civil War Troops, Regiments, Units
North Carolina: American Civil War Photos
Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas
Cherokee Indian Heritage, History, Culture, Customs, Ceremonies, and Religion
Cherokee Indians: American Civil War
History of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation
Cherokee War Rituals, Culture, Festivals, Government, and Beliefs
Researching your Cherokee Heritage
Civil War Diary, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers

What is the Medal of Honor?

What is the Medal of Honor?

The Medal of Honor is awarded* by the President in the name of Congress to a person who, while a member of the military, distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an 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 performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his comrades and must have involved risk of life. Incontestable proof of the performance of the service will be exacted and each recommendation for the award of this decoration will be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.
Source: Chapter 3-6, Army Regulation 600-8-22 (Military Awards), dated 25 February 1995.
* Recipient vs. Winner: Contrary to Hollywood movies, media, writers, and additional outlets, the Medal of Honor is awarded to an individual and not won. The recipient, or awardee, is not engaged in a contest, sport, or game. Most individuals receive the Medal of Honor posthumously; consequently, the Medal is received by the next-of-kin.

(Related reading below.)

Recommended Reading: Heroes: U.S. Army Medal of Honor Recipients (Hardcover). Description: The honored few...From the bloody fields of the Civil War to the global conflicts of the modern age, here are the stories of 100 Army Medal of Honor winners. Since its Revolution-era formation as the Continental Army, the United States Army has earned a hard-won reputation for duty, courage, and brotherhood. But there are those whose exploits in combat have set them apart, earning them the most sacred and honored citation there is-the Medal of Honor. Continued below... 

From the killing fields of the Civil War, through World Wars I and II, to the jungles of Vietnam and America's fight against terrorism around the world, this comprehensive book features detailed information on 100 Army Corps Medal of Honor recipients-including many lesser-known recipients-whose courage and sacrifice in the service of their country remain the foundations of the United States Army. Their achievements are chronicled in this complete and compelling memorial of those who have earned the right to be called "The Bravest of the Brave."

Site search Web search

Recommended Reading: Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty (Hardcover), by Peter Collier (Author), Nick Del Calzo (Photographer). Description: First published on Veteran’s Day 2003 to glowing reviews (“Powerful”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer), energetic cross-country events, and instant national bestseller status, Medal of Honor has now been revised, updated, and augmented into an even more important and newsworthy second edition. New features include. Continued below...

A multimedia DVD rich in historical footage and first-person reflections of these ultimate acts of courage

Full coverage of 22 additional Medal recipients by National Book Award nominee Peter Collier

Heart-rending new portraits by award-winning photographer Nick Del Calzo 

Introductory essay by Victor Davis Hanson, military history scholar and author of A War Like No Other, The Western Way of War, and The Soul of Battle

The 116 living Medal of Honor recipients fought in conflicts from World War II to Vietnam, serving in every branch of the armed services, and here is their ultimate record—the only book sponsored and endorsed by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

Since the Civil War more than 39 million men and women have answered the call to serve. Of those, 3,440 served with such uncommon valor and extraordinary courage that they were presented with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. Each of their heroic actions is as unique as the recipient. Journey with more than one hundred of America's living Medal of Honor recipients as they are honored and as their bravery is recounted by best-selling author Peter Collier. It is presented in duotone portraits by award-winning photographer Nick Del Calzo.


Recommended Reading: Ordinary Heroes: A Tribute to Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients: Reflections of Freedom, Faith, Duty and the Heroic Possibilities of the Everyday Human Spirit (Hardcover). Description: This collection of moving black-and-white photographs of recipients of the Medal of Honor shows not the glory of war, but the underlying spirit and humanity of true heroism. Forty-eight portraits are combined with comments, observations, and statements from the recipients of America's highest military honor. Continued below... 

This compilation of words and pictures of men who served in the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps is both humbling and poignant. Their actions and lives vary as much as the conflicts (World War II, Korea, and Vietnam) and include a conscientious objector who never wielded a weapon and a man known as the "Last Eagle," as he was the last World War II pilot to retire. Each recipient's full official citation is included in the appendix.


Recommended Reading: Gettysburg Heroes: Perfect Soldiers, Hallowed Ground (Hardcover). Description: The Civil War generation saw its world in ways startlingly different from our own. In these essays, Glenn W. LaFantasie examines the lives and experiences of several key personalities who gained fame during and after the war. The battle of Gettysburg is the thread that ties these Civil War lives together. Gettysburg was a personal turning point, though each person was affected differently. Continued below…

Largely biographical in its approach, the book captures the human drama of the war and shows how this group of individuals--including Abraham Lincoln, James Longstreet, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, William C. Oates, and others--endured or succumbed to the war and, willingly or unwillingly, influenced its outcome. Concurrently, it shows how the war shaped the lives of these individuals, putting them through ordeals they never dreamed they would face or survive.


Recommended Reading: Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words. Description: This New York Times best-selling account of battlefield courage celebrates the larger-than-life sacrifices of those awarded the nation's highest honor for valor in combat. Exclusive interviews with these twenty-four men—firsthand accounts of battlefield sacrifice from the greatest generation to Vietnam, along with before-and-after stories—form the core of this classic work. Continued below... 

The recipients represent a cross-section as diverse as America itself—officers and enlisted men; African Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasians; men who went on to become famous (Daniel Inouye, James Stockdale, Bob Kerrey) and others who returned proudly to small towns. Beyond Glory, in the voices of these heroes, is a testament to the courage of the American nation. About the Author: Larry Smith is a veteran editor with the New York Times and Parade magazine, where he was managing editor. Eddie Adams is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.

Return to American Civil War Homepage

Best viewed with Internet Explorer or Google Chrome