The name of the Medal is simply “Medal of Honor” — the word “Congressional” is sometimes mistakenly used because the Medal was created by Congress; however, the Medal is purely a military award. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was chartered by Congress, which is why the word Congressional precedes the Society’s name.
The living Recipients do not view the Medal of Honor as something that was won, like one might win a race. They view the Medal as something that was bestowed upon them to carry as a symbol of the sacrifices of all who have served. In the past, “Winner” might have been used, but out of respect for those who currently wear the Medal, please use the term “Recipient.”
No. Overall, only 18.5% of Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously.
Yes. All four of the U.S. Unknown Soldiers have been presented a Medal of Honor in recognition of their sacrifice and the sacrifices of all who serve the country.
No. You do not have to be a citizen, but you do have to serve in the U.S. military. In addition, there have been at least 764 foreign-born Recipients, and not all of them chose to become citizens. Ireland and Germany are the most common non-U.S. birth locations.
Yes – following World War I, the U.S. Congress passed special legislation allowing the Medal of Honor to be presented to the Unknown Soldiers of some of the U.S.’s allies from that war.
Thus the Unknown Soldiers of Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Rumania [Romania] all are listed as Recipients of the Medal of Honor.
This is the only time members of a foreign country’s military have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
A Recipient is accredited to the state from which they entered the military service.
New York: 676
Yes. The Recipients receive a special monthly pension, travel on military aircraft on space-available basis, have access to base commissaries, and are guaranteed burial at Arlington National Cemetery and admittance for their children to the military service academies. Some states offer special license plates and tax benefits.
Yes. The Stolen Valor Acts of 2005 and 2013 (Public Law 109-437 and 113-12) address this issue.
The 2005 Law makes it illegal to buy or sell the Medal of Honor, its ribbon or its rosette, including replicas or reproductions. This also applies to historical versions and designs of the Medal.
The 2013 Law enhanced fraud protections for the Medal while essentially reaffirming the 2005 prohibition on the sale or purchase of the Medal. The 2013 Law clarified that it was illegal to fraudulently claim that one had received the Medal of Honor in order to obtain “money, property, or other tangible benefit.”
Yes. There have been 19 servicemen who have received two Medals of Honor.
Yes. In 1916, Congress asked that all Medals awarded up to that point be reviewed to ensure that they met the high standards required for the award. As a result, 911 Medals of Honor were rescinded.
Later in the century, the Army reinstated 6 of the awards to civilians who served alongside U.S. troops.
(Reinstated awards: Amos Chapman, William Cody, William Dixon, James Dozier, Mary Walker, and William Woodall.)
No. There are no classified or “secret” Medal of Honor awards.
Presentations of the Medal of Honor follow President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 Executive Order stating that “the presentation of a Medal of Honor … will always be made with formal and impressive ceremonial.” They are always presented publicly.
In addition, all citations for the Medal, describing to whom and why it is being awarded, are officially published in the General Orders of the associated service branch. These General Orders are freely available to the public and all service members.
For the military service members for whom we have ranks, 77% of Medals of Honor have gone to enlisted personnel; 23% to officers.
No. There are many differences. The Medal of Honor is the highest military award for valor in combat. Please see our information page about these prestigious national awards.