Understanding the History and Definition of Medal of Honor

In 1861, the Medal of Honor became a symbol of appreciation or gratitude for service above and beyond the normal. This means that during combat a soldier may disregard his or her own safety to rescue another person. The award is given out by the United States President in the name of the United States Congress. The award is sometimes referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. The correct name began as the Navy version in December of 1981. The name given this prestigious award is that of the “Medal of Valour”. The Navy believes that Valour or determination in battle describes the person that is holding this medal. Brave, courageous and heroic are terms that are often used in describing the recipients of this medal.

It was on December 9th, 1861 that James Grimes, Senator of Iowa, made a recommendation to give medals to seamen, marines, and also foot soldiers that set themselves apart from other military personnel. The first collection of medals ordered cost one dollar and eighty-five cents each. One hundred and seventy-five was the first order from the U.S. Mint.

The Medal of Honor Branch Descriptions

The military offers three styles of medals representing the different branches of armed forces. The Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. Each Coast Guard or Marine that deserves the medal will receive the Navy Medal. The Medals of Honor all have their own style and ribbon to set upon the neck of the recipients. They are constructed of different metals such as brass, gold plating, bronze, and enamel. In 2004, Congress decided the Medal of Honor should be made from 90 percent gold. In the first reproductions, people gave the medal the name of Congressional gold medal but eventually this was stopped.

The Army Medal of Honor Description

The Army Medal of Honor looks like a 5-point gold star with every individual point carrying a trefoil of one and ½ inches wide. On each point is a single green leaf of oak. The middle of the star holds the words “Minerva” encompassed by the words United States of America. Circling the star is a green color wreath of laurel. Holding both the star and wreath is a single gold bar that has the word “Valour” inscribed on it. On the back of the gold bar is a place for the person’s name that is receiving the award.

It also says, “The Congress To” on a back of the bar. Each of the jump rings, eyes and suspensions are of red brass. Polished and shined, the rose and gold plated pendant and bar shine with pride. This Medal of Honor is suspended on a light blue ribbon. The important part of the ribbon is the part that holds the medal. This part of the ribbon is inscribed with 13 white stars representing the original 13 colonies of the union.

Description of the Air Force Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor for the Air Force has a star with five points and one point that aims down. The tips have a crown of laurel and green oak background. The wreath encompasses the star the same as the Army Medal does. The star contains the head of the statue of liberty in the middle and 34 stars around the middle. A Yellow bar contains the same words of “Valour” and this sits on top of the thunderbolt representing the Coat of Arms. The Medal is attached to the same ribbon of light blue and with the same 13 stars. This award is placed on the neck of the recipient by the United States President.

The Navy Medal of Honor Description

The Navy appears as a sheriff’s badge of the old west. The Badge holds a bronze star with 5 points. Each point has the crown of laurel as well as oak. The middle of the star is the U.S. Or Minerva with the left hand placed on the faces and the other hand on the shield. The shield is representing the U.S. Coast of arms shield. Snakes represent discord and an anchor holds the star to the ribbon bar. This Medal is solid red brass that is shiny and distinguished.