I come from a United States Military family, my great grandfather began the tradition by joining the Marines and earning the distinguished honor of the Purple heart. Next in line for the legacy was my father, who also joined the Marines and fought bravely in Vietnam. My own brother joined the Navy as serves today aboard the USS George Washington. I still look at my family’s medals which are kept reverentially in a glass case at the family house, and today I want to talk a little about the medals of America. This subject has fascinated me for a very long time, and I will go over what I know and have learned in the following article titled American military medals: the 3 highest honors.
The greatest honor an American military man or woman can earn is the Medal of Honor. The official criteria for this most high honor is as follows, any man or woman can be bestowed this medal by “distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the award was created in 1861. Nineteen of these heroes received a second award, fourteen received two separate Medals for two separate actions and five received both the Navy and the Army Medals of Honor for the same action. The award is often bestowed posthumously to fallen heroes in recognition for their extraordinary acts of valor. A total of six such heroes have received the MOH while serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Only slightly less impressive that the Medal of honor is the next highest medal an American military man or woman can earn: the Distinguished service cross. There are three official criteria for earning this honor. It is awarded for extraordinary heroism: While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States. While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force. Or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not merit award of the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard when operating under the authority of the Department of the Navy) and the Air Force Cross (Air Force).
Another extremely high honor that is quite rare but only slightly less grand that the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross is the Navy or Air Force Cross.The Navy Cross may be awarded to any person who, while serving with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguishes himself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor. The action must take place under one of three circumstances: while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
These medals are an incredible honor, and we, as Americans, should always pay our deepest, most sincere respects to all recipients of these prestigious awards. But they come to their recipients at a very high cost. Much bloodshed is shared by all the survivors of any conflict in which these high medals are given, and the brave men and women who survived are often silent on how they came to be granted such honors. Today, we should all take our hats off and hold a moment of silence for our brave soldiers who have been awarded these 3 highest medals, without them we would have no country to call our own.