Inside the Medal of Honor

Inside the Medal of Honor

March 25 is National Medal of Honor Day. Over the 161 years of America’s highest military award, some facts about it – like the fact that it cannot be “won,” only earned – have become well-known. But its history and lore goes deeper than that.

- 3,536 Medals of Honor have been awarded to 3,517 recipients. (Congressional Medal of Honor Society,

- This means 19 recipients got it twice – but that became impossible after the laws governing the award were changed in 1917. (

- March 25 was selected because it was on this date in 1863 that the first Medals of Honor were awarded, to Army soldier Jacob Parrott and other members of “Andrew’s Raiders.” (

- Half of all the Medals of Honor ever awarded were given out during the Civil War. (

- As of March 2024, there are 63 living recipients. (

- To earn a Medal of Honor you have to serve in the U.S. military, but you do not have to be a citizen then or eventually. More than 764 recipients have been foreign-born. (

- Only one president has earned the Medal of Honor: Theodore Roosevelt, during the Spanish-American War. (

- Not all recipients are known by name: the four “Unknown Soldiers” were each awarded one. (

- Until the Space Force was established in 2019, the Coast Guard as a service branch had the fewest Medals of Honor to its name, with one. (

- Recipients, no matter their rank, are saluted by their superiors in the military hierarchy – even the Joint Chiefs chairs and the president. Their fellow military members are encouraged to do the same, especially if they are wearing their medal. (