Medal of Honor MuseumUpdated: April 7, 2022
The Medal of Honor is the United States’ most prestigious military decoration, and symbolizes the values that the country was founded on, such as sacrifice, patriotism, integrity, and humility. The award was created in 1861, and has since been awarded to over 3,500 of the United States’ most courageous service members.
The Medal of Honor represents the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat. It is awarded by the President, in the name of Congress, to a service member who has shown gallantry and risked their life above and beyond the call of duty. Medal of Honor recipients are the only people who are saluted by the President as well as military members of all ranks.
How many service members have received the Medal of Honor?
Since the award’s inception, there have been over 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients, representing all five branches of the military, including:
- Over 2,400 Army recipients
- Nearly 750 Navy recipients
- 300 Marine Corps recipients
- 19 Air Force recipients
- 1 Coast Guard recipient
Originally, the medal was only presented to enlisted service members, but in 1863, officers were also made eligible to receive the award. At that time, the guidelines for which the Medal of Honor could be awarded were further developed. The Medal of Honor can be awarded for acts of valor in the following situations:
- While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States
- While serving with friendly forces engaged in an armed conflict against opposing armed forces in which the United States is not a belligerent party
- While engaged in military operations that involve conflict with an opposing foreign force
Who is responsible for creating and funding the museum?
The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation is an educational institution organized to design, build and maintain the National Medal of Honor Museum and Education Center. The museum will primarily be funded through private sector donations. The Board of Directors, which includes every living former Commander-in-Chief, will help to oversee development and construction of the museum, as well as a National Medal of Honor Monument in Washington, D. C.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is also working to make the museum a reality. The society was chartered in 1958 by President Eisenhower in order to allow recipients to bond and build relationships with one another, and to protect the legacy of the medal, retain the stories of recipients, and promote the ideas and values that the Medal represents. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society supports the legacy of all Medal of Honor recipients. Many recipients dedicate their lives to educating the public about the Medal by sharing their stories. The National Medal of Honor Museum will provide an additional platform for these important stories and lessons to be shared with a wider audience throughout the United States.
Where will the museum be located?
The idea to build a large-scale museum honoring Medal of Honor recipients began in 2013. At that time, a small Medal of Honor museum was in operation aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Plans were made to relocate the existing Medal of Honor museum to a larger and more permanent location. In November 2018, after several years of planning and fundraising, the decision was made to move the museum out of South Carolina.
Though multiple cities vied for the honor of becoming the museum’s permanent home, the city of Arlington, Texas was selected as the future site of the National Medal of Honor Museum.
One reason Arlington was selected is the city’s ties to the military community. Arlington is home to nearly two million veterans and active duty service members; additionally, there are more than 70 Medal of Honor recipients from Texas, making the state a fitting location for the museum. Arlington is located 15 minutes away from DFW International Airport, making it easily accessible from much of the United States. This will allow even more visitors to experience the museum and learn about the lives of Medal of Honor recipients.
What will the museum cover?
The National Medal of Honor Museum is being designed to provide visitors with personal and emotional connections to recipients, and to educate visitors on what the Medal of Honor represents. The goal of the museum is to help visitors understand the meaning and price of freedom, and to appreciate what it means to put service above self.
The museum plans to provide visitors with an experience that forms personal and emotional connections to the stories of Medal of Honor recipients, while providing information on the wars that recipients fought in, and the values represented by the Medal of Honor:
The National Medal of Honor Museum will work with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to develop an education center to produce educational content to help promote youth character development. The Character Development Program is designed by teachers, and will enable students to explore the concepts of patriotism, courage, sacrifice, integrity, and humility, and how to display these values in everyday life. The education center will use the stories of Medal of Honor recipients to inspire and motivate young people to be the best version of themselves.
The Museum also provides an interactive database that allows individuals to view recipients of the honor and to search for recipients by name. The database provides a biography for each person who has been awarded the Medal since it was created in 1861.
In addition to the museum, the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation is working with congressional delegates from Texas to create a monument in Washington, DC dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients. Currently, the museum is expected to open in 2024.
Those who are awarded the Medal of Honor represent the bravest and most selfless members of the United States military. The National Medal of Honor Museum will honor these distinguished recipients, and share their stories with the rest of the country.
Heather Maxey works at a non-profit that addresses military ineligibility. She is an Army spouse, and met her husband while working as a Health Educator at Fort Bragg.
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