The Medal of Honor is the highest military award that a member of the military can receive, for actions above and beyond the call of duty. The first Medal of Honor was awarded in March 1863 to some members of the Andrew’s Raiders, who in 1862 took over a train on its run from Atlanta, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Using the train as transportation, the raiders sabotaged Confederate railroad tracks and equipment, before being captured at the end of the Great Locomotive Chase.
The United States Congress established the Medal of Honor in 1862. Since that time, legislation has updated over time who is eligible to receive the medal, the design of the medal and other aspects. Today, there are three designs; the Army, Navy and the Air Force services each have their own design. Some of these designs are featured on the Medal of Honor stamps that came out November 2013.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s website, www.cmohs.org , states there are 3463 recipients of the Medal of Honor. Today there are only 77 living recipients of the Medal of Honor: including Army Captain William D. Swenson who was awarded the medal on 15 October 2013, for actions in Afghanistan.
One woman, Mary Walker, was awarded the Medal of Honor for her actions as a Surgeon in the American Civil War. A 1917 review board deleted her Medal of Honor from the list of recipients, along with 910 other Medal of Honor recipients. Mary Walker’s Medal of Honor was restored in 1977. Douglas Munro is the only member of the United States Coast Guard to receive the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II. There are many more stories of heroism and action to be found in reading the stories of the recipients and their citations.
The library collections include the following items:
Medal of Honor: Profiles of America’s Military Heroes from the Civil War to the Present by Allen Mikaelian (call number 355.1342 MIK)
The Congressional Medal of Honor by Bill Harris (call number q 355.134 HAR)
Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor by Russell S. Bonds (call number 973.73 BON)
Honor Deferred (DVD 355.134 HON)