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Today is Medal of Honor Day

All three versions of the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Special Operations Command/Released)
March 25, 2021

Today is National Medal of Honor Day, a special day set aside to honor all recipients of the Medal of Honor — the United States’ highest military decoration.

Every March 25 commemorates the six-character trait pillars, courage, sacrifice, patriotism, citizenship, integrity, and commitment espoused by Medal of Honor recipients.

Congress passed a bill in 1990 to declare the holiday, which became Public Law 101-564 after President George H.W. Bush’s signature. National Medal of Honor Day was recognized for the first time in 1991.

President Joe Biden remarked on the day, tweeting, “On this National Medal of Honor Day, we recognize the brave service members whose heroism and courage earned them our nation’s highest military decoration. We must never forget their acts of valor and the sacrifices they made in defense of our country.”

The Medal of Honor was awarded for the first time on March 25, 1863 to Jacob Parrott for his actions in the April 1862 Great Locomotive Chase.

The Department of Defense honored the day, saying, “Today, we recognize the recipients of the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice.”

The medal is an emblem of heroism and sacrifice. It is granted to those who “have distinguished themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville tweeted a collage of Medal of Honor recipients to remember on this day.

The Department of Veterans Affairs also tweeted a collage of Medal of Honor Recipients. “Today is National Medal of Honor Day. This day honors over 3,000 Medal of Honor recipients for acts of valor that went beyond the call of duty. Thank you to all recipients for your service,” the tweet said.

The medal has been awarded to more than 3,500 heroes, according to the National Medal of Honor museum.

Of those 3,500 recipients, only one woman has received the honor.

Air Force General CQ Brown Jr. tweeted, “The Medal of Honor is the military highest honor, earned by those who’ve demonstrated acts of valor, profound courage and self-sacrifice. Learn more about their stories of service and bravery here on this National Medal of Honor Day.”

There are three different versions of the medal; one each for the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

It is the only military honor that is worn around the neck, and garners such respect that all ranks of the military traditionally salute the recipient.