The Medal of Honor is the highest military award for bravery that can be given to an individual in the United States of America. It is generally presented to its recipient by the president in the name of the Congress. Each service has its own regulations for judging individuals for receipt of the Medal of Honor. The deed must be proven by incontestable evidence of at least two witnesses; it must be so outstanding that it clearly distinguished the recipient’s gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery; it must involve risk of their life; and it must be the type of deed which, if it had not been done, would not subject the individual to any justified criticism.
It was authorized by Congress and approved by President Abraham Lincoln on Dec. 21, 1861, for enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Medal of Honor for Army and Volunteer forces was authorized on July 12, 1862.
There have been 3,507 individuals who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, of whom 69 are alive.
Assistant Surgeon General Bernard Irwin is credited with the earliest Medal of Honor action (Feb. 13-14, 1861), but Jacob Parrott, who was one of six Andrew Raiders receiving the medal, was the first man to actually receive the Army Medal of Honor on March 25, 1863, for his actions during “The Great Locomotive Chase” in 1862.
President Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously from President William Clinton on January 16, 2001. President Roosevelt is the only president to have received this award.
President Harry S Truman presented 15 medals on Oct. 5, 1945. One of those receiving the award was West Virginia’s own Hershel “Woody” Williams for his valor at Iwo Jima. As President Truman stood before each of the 15 recipients he said, “I would rather have this medal than be president.”
Williams is the sole surviving Marine from World War II to wear the Medal of Honor. He created the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to consider and recognize the families of those who had lost a loved one in military service. In 2013, his foundation erected the first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Donel V. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar. The monuments have been erected in 48 states.
There have been 62 West Virginians who have received the Medal of Honor. Williams is the only surviving West Virginia recipient.
President Donald J. Trump has awarded 11 Medals of Honor.
God bless all those who have served their country in military service and those families who have had a loved one pay the ultimate sacrifice.
Thomas F. Lambert
Wear purple on Nov. 19 for
pancreatic cancer awareness
In October each year, we are surrounded by pink and pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness. The pink ribbon has brought about increased awareness for breast cancer and early screening. However, there is no early screening for pancreatic cancer. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and the color is purple.
I’ve been advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness since October 2007. I can even tell you the exact day: Oct. 4, 2007, the day my younger brother passed away from pancreatic cancer. Until he was diagnosed just 18 months earlier, basically all I knew about cancer was the pink ribbon, because cancer didn’t apply to me.
Just this year, pancreatic cancer claimed the lives of Georgia Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September and baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in October. This type of cancer also claimed the life of actors Patrick Swayze and Michael Landon, Apple founder Steve Jobs and the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin.
While overall cancer incidence and cancer death rates are declining, the incidence of pancreatic cancer and death rate for pancreatic cancer patients has been increasing. Pancreatic cancer has surpassed breast cancer and is now the third-leading cause of cancer-related death.
It would be wonderful if we could see just half the purple in November than that of pink in October. Specifically, Thursday, Nov. 19, is World Pancreatic Cancer Day sponsored by the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition. Everyone can join in, just by wearing purple. Let’s turn the world purple for just one day!
We must all work together and with our elected officials to increase federal funding for pancreatic cancer research. This starts by raising awareness – even if it’s just wearing purple for one day. Go to www.pancan.org and remember, wear purple on Nov. 19.
Pancreatic Cancer Action
Network, Philippi, W.Va.