What is Medal of Honor Day? Sounds like it should be a Federal Holiday right? While National Medal of Honor Day was passed by Congress it is not a Federal Holiday in the sense that you don’t get the day off, the banks won’t close, schools don’t close, the postal service doesn’t close down etc. You get the idea right?
This holiday is celebrated each year on the 25th of March and has been celebrated on that day since November 1990. National Medal of Honor day was signed into Public Law in November 1990 and was passed by the 101st United States Congress. Why did they choose to make the day March 25th? This date was chosen as a way to honor the Great Locomotive Chase participants which totaled 23 men. These men received medals for their participation with the first 6 medals being received by William H. H. Reddick, William Beninger, William Pittenger, Robert Buffum, Jacob Paroott and Elihu H. Mason. These first recipients received their award on March 25, 1863.
Is there are criteria for this Award? Yes, there is! The Medal is awarded to those who have proven to act above or beyond the call of duty in the following situations;
1. While engaging in actions that are against United States enemies.
2. While in military operations which involve conflict with any foreign force which is in opposition with the United States.
3. While serving with friendly forces which are themselves engaged in conflict against their opponents with both parties being armed but with the United States not being a belligerent party.
Since the award of the first Medal of Honor, there have been in excess of 3,400 medals awarded. Each recipient since the inception of National Medal of Honor Day is included on what is called the MoH Honor Roll. Members on the list have a number of military benefits including an increase in retirement pay, eligibility for being interred at Arlington National Cemetery and Military burial honors.
How to Celebrate National Medal of Honor Day
How can you celebrate National Medal of Honor Day? There are a number of ceremonies that are observed at national cemeteries and military bases. If you don’t live close to any of those places you can opt to do something simple. You can fly the United States flag at your home or at your place of business. You can adopt an MoH recipient’s gravesite or you can find and attend ceremonies which are honoring MoH recipients which are still alive. If you can’t do any of the above there is the option to donate to veteran museums, veteran service organizations and MoH societies.