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.
The Medal has been awarded to more than 3,500 heroes, according to the National Medal of Honor museum.
The U.S. Air Force honored the day, saying, “We recognize the 3,525 American heroes who have been awarded the military’s highest honor. Each one of these individuals epitomized both their service’s values and the nation’s values. Their heroism & selfless acts will never be forgotten.”
The U.S. Marine Corps paid tribute to the 298 Marine and 18 Navy Corpsmen who received the Medal of Honor.
“Today is National Medal of Honor Day, paying tribute to all those – including 298 Marines and 18 [U.S. Navy] Corpsmen – who have received the nation’s highest military award for valor,” the Marines said.
Arlington National Cemetery released a video paying tribute to “more than 400 Medal of Honor recipients” buried at the sacred resting place.
The U.S. Army honored the sole female recipient of the Medal of Honor – Dr. Mary Walker – in a series of posts on Twitter in recognition of both Medal of Honor Day and Women’s History Month.
“Out of more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients, only one has been a woman. Dr. Mary Walker helped change the face of medicine during the Civil War,” the Army’s post said.
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 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.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs honored the day with a tweet saying, “National Medal of Honor Day boosts recognition for the heroism of our Medal of Honor recipients. Thank you to all our Veteran and active-duty Medal of Honor recipients for serving our country.”
In another tweet, the department recognized one of the most recent Medal of Honor recipients, Army hero Alwyn Cashe, who was granted the honor posthumously in December 2021 for his heroic act of saving his teammates from a burning vehicle in Iraq in 2005. He sustained burns over most of his body in the act and eventually succumbed to his wounds.
The U.S. Army recognized another recent Medal of Honor recipient, Mastery Sgt. Earl Plumlee, who was awarded the Medal by President Joe Biden in December 2021 for his heroics in Afghanistan in 2013.
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.