Today, March 25th, 2011 is National Medal of Honor Day.
2011 is also the year that marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Medal of Honor, which, President Abraham Lincoln enacted by signing, S. No. 82, into law in 1861. With that enactment, the first 200 Navy medals were bestowed.
The Medal is our nation’s highest award for military valor, and its monumental anniversary represents 150 years of courage and sacrifice on the part of the millions of men and women who defended our freedoms in uniform.
Today at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, Medal of Honor recipients will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in honor of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. They will also present Citizen Service Before Self Honors to three Americans who have demonstrated courage and selfless in their civilian lives similar to what the recipients did in combat. Medal of Honor recipients will present the American Spirit Award to an outstanding Boy Scout.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force, which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the United States military. To receive this rare honor, the President of the United States must approve it after a long and rigorous consideration process, and then the President presents it personally to the recipient in the name of Congress. Since the birth of our nation over 40 million Americans have faced combat, yet fewer than 3,500 have received our nation’s highest honor for combat – the Medal of Honor.