Established during the Civil War, the Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration bestowed by the US government upon members of the Armed Forces. It is awarded for “gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty” and is often awarded posthumously. In fact, since the Vietnam war, only one soldier has been alive to receive the medal, Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, who was awarded it for overcoming intense enemy fire in Afghanistan in order to rescue a fellow captured soldier.
The Medal of Honor is not only the greatest patriotic symbol we possess, it is also a modern day representation of one of the oldest, most noble marks of character. In John 15:13, Christ says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The Medal of Honor is given to men and women who put that simple yet profoundly challenging call into action. It is a mark of heroism, but it is also poses a powerful question to those of us not in military service: are you willing to lay your life down for your fellow man?
In commemoration of National Medal of Honor Day, we present the following stories from Medal of Honor recipients. May they challenge, encourage, and inspire you to be great.