July 12, 1862: Lincoln introduces the Medal of Honor
Ever wonder how the Medal of Honor was created? Established by President Abraham Lincoln in the mid-1800s, the prestigious award has since been given to over 3,400 soldiers. Read on to learn more about the day that Lincoln introduced the Medal of Honor.
You might be wondering: why did Lincoln create the Medal of Honor in the first place? It was Lincoln’s idea to enact a law in Congress that created the U.S. Army Medal of Honor. In the president’s own words, the medal would be awarded “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” Of course, Lincoln had been planning to create a medal to honor valiant soldiers since December 1861. That’s when he put his stamp of approval on the creation of the U.S. Navy Medal of Valor.
A few good men
Naturally, the Medal of Valor was the inspiration for the Army Medal of Honor. In fact, the Medal of Honor was established by Congress on July 12, 1862. Soon after the Medal of Honor was produced, it was given to six military members who fought bravely in the Civil War. In 1862, the Union Army soldiers were granted the distinguished award for sneaking into Confederate land and demolishing bridges and train tracks from Tennessee to Georgia.
Behind enemy lines
The following year, the Medal of Honor became official military decor for every American servicemember. Even officers that are commissioned by the military are qualified to receive the award. Typically, the medal is given to soldiers that put their life at risk behind enemy lines. Ever since it was invented in 1862, the medal has been bestowed to a whopping 3,400 male soldiers and one female soldier.