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Is the Medal of Honor Overrated?

by Enochadmin

At the moment, sadly, an unlimited variety of People seemingly have heard of just one valor award—the Medal of Honor. This narrow-minded focus unfairly diminishes the honors of Vietnam veterans and others awarded completely different valor medals. Ask the “particular person on the road” to call one other medal awarded for heroism apart from the Medal of Honor. Maybe some folks will consider “the Purple Coronary heart,” awarded for wounds or dying in fight. Just a few would have the ability to cite the armed companies’ second-highest valor award, the Military’s Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy/Marine Corps’ Navy Cross, the Coast Guard Cross, or the Air Pressure/House Pressure Cross.

U.S. army medals from the highest, Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Stare, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Coronary heart, Air Medal and Commendation Medal.
(HISTORYNET Archives)

The Silver Star would possibly vaguely “ring a bell” with some, however many would seemingly be hard-pressed to explain its significance and possibly wouldn’t know it’s the third-highest valor award for all army companies. The army’s Bronze Star Medal and Commendation Medal with “V” (for valor) units are arguably past the ken of most People.

But the heroism these awards characterize isn’t any much less deserving of recognition than the valor of the celebrated few who’ve obtained the Medal of Honor. Though the Medal of Honor is appropriately positioned atop the “Pyramid of Valor” all valor awards mirror the bravery, blood and sacrifice of America’s best, typically earned on the worth of their lives in determined fight with communist forces in Vietnam and different foes elsewhere.

On account of most of the people’s unfamiliarity with the army and a concentrate on the Medal of Honor, the rigorously crafted Pyramid of Valor is collapsing right into a single “all or nothing” award.

Some folks imagine {that a} service member’s heroism have to be rewarded with the Medal of Honor to be correctly acknowledged, and subsequently the household or different advocates will name for a medal improve by claiming that the braveness and sacrifice of somebody beforehand acknowledged with the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross or Silver Star is being unfairly denied the Medal of Honor.

These whose information of army awards is proscribed to the Medal of Honor suppose even the nation’s second-highest valor awards, the service crosses, are one way or the other inadequate recognition. Something lower than the Medal of Honor is taken into account an insult to the service member’s valor, an “injustice” or not equal to the heroic actions that came about. This angle diminishes the true heroism of tens of hundreds of Vietnam veterans whose valor was justly acknowledged by medals much less prestigious than the Medal of Honor.

The Medal of Honor, created in 1861 throughout the Civil Warfare, was first offered in March 1863 to 6 members of Andrews’ Raiders, who captured a Accomplice practice in Georgia in 1862, an motion re-created within the 1956 movie The Nice Locomotive Chase. (Some acts of valor that came about previous to the Andrews’ raid had been acknowledged with the Medal of Honor after the struggle.)

The Medal of Honor was the one valor award a heroic service member might obtain and put on on his chest from the Civil Warfare till the Distinguished Service Cross was established in January 1918 within the midst of World Warfare I. The opposite valor recognitions throughout that interval had been restricted to a “point out in dispatches” and a written “certificates.” Thus, if a medal was to be awarded, it needed to be the Medal of Honor, no matter circumstances and the diploma of valor exhibited.

Of the three,530 Medals of Honor awarded as much as 2021, greater than 2,000 of them had been offered earlier than World Warfare I for a wide range of acts similar to capturing enemy flags, rescuing comrades beneath fireplace, standing steadfast within the face of an enemy assault and delivering dispatches by way of hostile territory. That big selection of heroics, starting from true blood sacrifices “above and past the decision of responsibility” to comparatively mundane however nonetheless valorous acts, satisfied U.S. army authorities {that a} hierarchy of valor recognition was needed to make sure that a good and equitable system of medals was created. 

The Pyramid of Valor started to take form simply because the U.S. entered World Warfare I when the army and Congress added not solely the Distinguished Service Cross but additionally different awards for heroism that didn’t fairly meet the Medal of Honor’s exceptionally excessive bar.

Second tier: The Distinguished Service Cross, created in 1918; Navy Cross, 1919; Air Pressure Cross, 1960.

Third tier: Silver Star, established in 1918 because the Military’s Quotation Star, grew to become the Silver Star in 1932 (obtainable for the Air Pressure after it grew to become a separate service); licensed for the Navy and Marine Corps, 1942.   

Fourth tier: Distinguished Flying Cross, all companies, for aerial achievement or valor, created in 1926, retroactive to 1918; Bronze Star, 1944, for meritorious achievements or valor.

Fifth tier: Purple Coronary heart, created by George Washington in 1782 because the Badge of Navy Advantage for “meritorious motion” however little used and transformed in 1932 to a medal honoring the wounded and killed.

Sixth tier: Air Medal, established in 1942 for aerial achievement or valor.

Seventh tier: Commendation Medal, for meritorious achievement, service or valor, launched within the Navy (and Marines) in 1944, within the Military in 1945 and the Air Pressure in 1958.

Medals that could be awarded for both achievement or valor (the Bronze Star, Commendation Medal, and so on.) embody a “V for valor” gadget when offered for heroism.

Medal of Honor Awards

3,530—Whole Medals
3,511—People
1,523—U.S. Civil Warfare
110—Spanish-American Warfare
126—World Warfare I
472—World Warfare II
146—Korean Warfare
262Vietnam Warfare
20
—Afghanistan Warfare
8—Iraq Warfare
Present as of June 30, 2022.

All of our Vietnam Warfare heroes who earned any of these medals ought to be remembered for his or her braveness and sacrifice—not merely the one in 10,000 whose actions resulted in an award of the Medal of Honor. The angle that one way or the other the Medal of Honor is the one worthwhile valor medal is a regression to 1861 when it was simply that: “one or none” and egregiously unfair to historical past and our troopers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

Don’t let a tunnel-like concentrate on the Medal of Honor lead us to unfairly ignore the valor of heroes whose bravery was acknowledged “solely” with awards of the Distinguished Service Cross (or Navy, Air Pressure variants), Silver Star, Bronze Star/Commendation Medal with “V” gadget or Purple Coronary heart. All these heroes have to be celebrated and honored.

—Jerry Morelock is senior editor of Vietnam journal.

Do you’ve gotten reflections on the struggle you want to share?
E-mail your concept or article to Vietnam@historynet.com, topic line: Reflections

This text appeared within the Autumn 2022 subject of Vietnam journal.

this text first appeared in vietnam journal

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