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The Medal of Honor (MOH) is the United States Armed Forces' highest military decoration and is awarded to recognize American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardians, and coast guardsmen who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. The medal is normally awarded by the President of the United States (the commander in chief of the armed forces) and is presented "in the name of the United States Congress."
|Medal of Honor|
|Type||Military medal with neck ribbon|
|Awarded for||Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty|
|Presented by||The president of the United States in the name of the United States Congress|
|Eligibility||United States Armed Forces service members|
|Established||Naval Service: December 21, 1861|
Army: July 12, 1862
Air Force: August 10, 1956
Coast Guard: July 25, 1963
Space Force: January 1, 2021
|First awarded||March 25, 1863|
|Last awarded||September 5, 2023|
|Total awarded posthumously||618|
|Next (lower)||Army: Distinguished Service Cross|
Naval Service: Navy Cross
Air and Space Forces: Air Force Cross
Coast Guard: Coast Guard Cross
It is sometimes referred to as the "Congressional Medal of Honor". The secretary of the Army, on behalf of the Department of Defense, has testified to Congress that the term "Congressional Medal of Honor" is "incorrect" as a matter of statute, and that "it seems inappropriate to modify the name of the medal with the word 'Congressional' as each award is made in the name of the Congress," through a mandated process in the military chain of command, not 'by' Congress, and there is no other Medal of Honor, so no need for the modifier. The U.S. Senate also lists the award without the "congressional" modifier, suggesting that both the executive and at least this branch of the legislature agree on this point.
There are three distinct variants of the medal: one for the Army, awarded to soldiers; one for the Naval Service, awarded to sailors, marines, and coast guardsmen; and one for the Air and Space Forces, awarded to airmen and guardians. The Medal of Honor was introduced for the Naval Service in 1861, soon followed by the Army's version in 1862. The Air Force used the Army's version until they received their own distinctive version in 1965. The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the United States Armed Forces. The President typically presents the Medal of Honor at a formal ceremony intended to represent the gratitude of the American people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin.
According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3,535 Medals of Honor awarded since the decoration's creation, with over 40% awarded for actions during the American Civil War. Notably, however, 911 Army medals were revoked after Congress authorized a review in 1917, and a number of Navy medals were also revoked prior to the turn of the century—none of these are included in this total except for those that were subsequently restored. In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day".
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