As we know, the Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award our nation can bestow upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States for valor in action against an enemy force.
March 25 marked the 150th anniversary of the presentation of the very first Medal of Honor. The Medal was presented March 25, 1863, to Union Army Pvt. Jacob Parrott.
In honor of the anniversary of that event, recent Medal of Honor recipients gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen war heroes with a somber wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
More commendable and notable for these heroes, following the wreath laying, “[t]wenty-one Medal of Honor recipients who put their lives on the line in extraordinary ways and circumstances paid tribute…to four citizen-heroes who also went above and beyond for their fellow man,” according to the Army News Service.
Addressing the Medal of Honor recipients at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, keynote speaker Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said:
Of the medal awarded you, your most often quoted response is, ‘I wear it for others.’ You wear it for those who came before us, those who bequeathed to us a nation. You wear it for those who stood with you in times of peril and strife. … You wear it for those who will come after.
Speaking then to the four civilians who had earned the Citizen Service Before Self Honors award, Battaglia said the program preserves the ideals of the nation and of the Medal of Honor by seeking out those who either demonstrated lifesaving acts of bravery or those who have demonstrated extraordinary service to others for an extended time.
“This program recognizes that the cloth of our nation is woven in its communities,” he said to the four citizen-heroes. “Like those who sit with you and before you, you’ve made a commitment to our nation, to our way of life, and like them, you will pass along a personal example of courage, integrity, commitment, sacrifice patriotism and citizenship.”
According to the Army News Service, this year’s civilian honorees are:
— Rev. Joe Carroll from San Diego, who became known as “The Hustler Priest” for the millions of dollars he’s raised over 30 years for shelters and programs for the poor and homeless;
— Marcos Ugart, 15, of Troutdale, Ore., who rescued a 7-year-old boy from his burning home by climbing a ladder, breaking through the window and pulling the youngster to safety; and
— Father and son Jesse Shaffer III and Jesse Shaffer IV from Braithwaite, La., for rescuing 120 people by boat who had been left stranded in flooded streets during Hurricane Isaac in August 2012.
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