The Medal of Honor

General George Smith Patton Jr. once stated: "Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base."

It was with this knowledge in mind that years earlier Senator James W. Grimes of Iowa, Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs proposed Public Resolution Number 82. This public resolution was meant to upgrade the effectiveness of the navy at a time when morale was low and desertions were rife in the armed forces. He submitted this proposition on December 9, 1861, it passed both the Senate and the House. On December 21, 1861 President Abraham Lincoln signed the resolution into law.

On February 17, 1862, Senator Henry Wilson, Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, produced a similar resolution on behalf of the army. It was signed into law July 12, 1862.

Both resolutions authorized the striking and awarding of what was to become known as the Medal of Honor. It was to be awarded in recognition to those, who, on the Field of Honor displayed uncommon courage, gallantry, intrepidity and personal valour far above that of their peers. In simpler words; for a deed "above and beyond the call of duty." An act performed so astonishingly heroic, that, if the individual had not done so, would have subjected themselves to no criticism.

Since its inception in 1861, of the millions of Americans who have served in the armed forces of the United States, just over 3400 individuals have received this nations premier award for valour. 19 of them received it twice. President Harry S. Truman; each time he presented the Medal of Honor to an individual would remark: "I would rather have that medal than be President of the United States." General George Smith Patton Jr. once remarked: "I would trade my immortal soul for that decoration."

It has been said that receipt of the Medal of Honor gains oneself entrance to American knighthood. This must be so, for only a handful of remarkable individuals have ever qualified for the roundtable....fewer still ever knew that they had.