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Our Nation’s Highest Military Decoration

Our very own historian, Jim Peters, provided a program on the evolution of the Medal of Honor. Jim is uniquely qualified to speak on the topic as he is the author of “Arlington National Cemetery: Shrine to America’s Heroes, 3rd Edition.” George Washington established a Badge of Military Merit, but not until the Civil War did a Medal of Honor emerge, first with the Navy and then with the Army. Large numbers of medals were awarded in this period and gradually a more clear criteria was developed for the award. The medal is usually awarded by the President in the name of the U.S. Congress, to individuals in the armed forces who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. The medals are different in appearance as the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have designed their own versions of the award. Jim shared stories of a number of medal recipients. Some 3,530 Medals of Honor have been awarded in our nation’s history.