Sunday, March 25, 2018

America Honors Heroic Men and Woman on Medal of Honor Day

Woman? Yes! Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Andrew Jackson.

In November 1865, having left government service for good, Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Andrew Johnson, even though she was a civilian who had never been a commissioned officer in military service.

That civilian status is why Walker's medal was rescinded in 1917, two years before she died -- along with 910 others. Walker refused to return the medal, though, and continued to wear it until she died two years later.

Sixty years after that, in 1977, President Jimmy Carter restored the honor in her name, thanks to efforts made by her family.

Commentary: Medal of Honor Day reminds us there’s a hero in everyone
Military Times
Ret. Army Maj. Drew Dix
March 24, 2018
Medal of Honor recipients Mike Fitzmaurice and Will Swenson, center, participate in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating valor and sacrifice on National Medal of Honor Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on March 25. 2017. (Francis Chung/Defense Department)

On a hilltop in Arlington National Cemetery, servicemen from our nation’s wars, whose names we don’t know but whose service and sacrifice we will always remember, have found their final resting place in the Tomb of the Unknowns.

It’s fitting that these courageous Americans, who represent all who have worn the cloth of our great country, received our nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor. In addition to these unknown heroes, for many of us Medal of Honor recipients, and for many veterans, Arlington National Cemetery evokes specific memories of incredible people we served with and long-ago battles we fought.

There are 71 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, and this week, 31 of my brothers are in our nation’s capital to commemorate National Medal of Honor Day, which falls every year on March 25. While they lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and render salutes as a lone bugler plays “Taps,” all of us, no matter where we are, will be paying our respects to the men and women who have served our great nation in uniform.

To a man, the privilege and burden of wearing the Medal of Honor is our opportunity to represent the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have served, fought, and in some cases sacrificed their lives to preserve America’s liberty. All 71 of us have witnessed firsthand the ravages of the battlefield.
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