The Congressional Medal of Honor recognizes the bravest soldiers who have stood in the face of the enemy without backing down. These men and women have sacrificed for their country, and the Medal of Honor is the highest award a service member can earn for acts of valor. The Medal of Honor has a rich, eye-opening history that must be preserved and protected.
For the highest military designation in the United States, an equally prestigious and honorable society that facilitates support of and education about the Medal of Honor is necessary. This is where the Congressional Medal of Honor Society comes in.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was originally chartered in 1958 by President Eisenhower. However, the Society was preceded by the Medal of Honor Legion, which was founded in 1890.
Originally, the Legion was founded to protect the integrity of the Medal of Honor. In the years after the Medal of Honor was first created, there was much confusion and, sadly, fraud by imposters. Other organizations even created a similar looking medal, creating further confusion and diluting the integrity of the original award.
An important impact from the formation of the Medal of Honor Legion is that of the Pyramid of Honor, which established other awards. This enabled persons of merit to be recognized, even if the action did not fall under Medal of Honor criteria. The intention of this was to promote the exclusivity and higher merit needed to win a Medal of Honor, therefore preserving its original integrity.
And so, the Legion was created to lobby for the protection of the award’s integrity. Later, the creation of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society ensured the ongoing preservation of the award’s legacy and heritage.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society also serves a bigger purpose, too. Earning a Medal of Honor requires an extreme act of bravery, of valor. For this reason, most recipients need some support, and it’s difficult to find that support from people who cannot fully empathize.
After the Vietnam War, older living recipients of the Medal of Honor were called to a new duty: support the incoming class of award recipients. The Society would facilitate meetings and mentorship for the soldiers, who became comfortable in this setting. For all the bravery these men showed, there was little support upon coming home. The Society made an effort to provide that missing link.
Now, the member numbers of this exclusive organization are dwindling — but many would say this is a good problem to have. After all, the acts of valor that earn the Medal of Honor are all too often burdened by extreme sacrifice. Some would argue that avoiding the need for these acts of valor is better than having casualties.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is dedicated to the ongoing preservation of the heritage of the highest military designation. For the recipients who are living, and for any new recipients, the Society is a welcome support and a source of education for those who want to learn about the sacrifices of these brave soldiers.