This blog will offend some, but it is not intended to do so. For that, I ask you grit your teeth and come back on Monday for a less offensive blog.
For the past several years anyone who has done serious research about Medal of Honor matters has constantly come up with the problem with regards to the press and others getting the name of the medal... and the process of getting the medal... wrong.
Often the term CONGRESSIONAL Medal of Honor is used when there is no such thing. It is simply the Medal of Honor. Worse yet, often you hear or read or see in the press and elsewhere that an individual has just received a Congressional Medal of Honor when it was not even a Medal of Honor. It was a Congressional GOLD MEDAL which of course is an entirely different medal all together.
In addition, these same culprits will constantly bring stories forth about how an individual is being rewarded by WINNING the medal, or that he or she... WON it for whatever reason. These heroes were not in contests were one person wins and another losses. This is not scrabble folks. These heroes are putting their lives in jeopardy so that I can sit at my desk and write and you can sit at yours and read whatever we want. Our freedoms have been earned by the bullets coming out of their guns... not by our words.
Over the past several months of daily net searches I still find many occasions when these errors continue. Though it does seem to be somewhat reducing.
Taking things a step further, I truly hope that many Americans share my concern about the constant downgrading of the very medal that is supposed to be representative of the utmost bravery in the face of the enemy... the highest medal anyone can get whilst serving in uniform for the United States of America.
This downgrading is taking place by America allowing far too many organizations, at the local level, the state and even nationally to create medals and calling them Medals of Honor. The law enforcement and fire departments, and the departments of education, lawyers associations and local mayors and state legislators across the country have created their own versions of the Medal of Honor. Even the BOY SCOUTS have a Honor Medal. Each of these adds to the constant proliferation of the term, and denigrates from THE Medal of Honor, though I suspect each does so most unintentionally. Just today on the net I noted a story that a fire department has not only been issuing its own Medal of Honor, but the medal comes with a blue ribbon you were around your neck. THE Medal of Honor also comes with... guess what... a blue ribbon... to be worn around the recipient's neck.
It seems to me that there ought to be a time in the United States that the federal government says enough is enough and legislate the use of the term MEDAL of HONOR.
Now having said that, I in no way want to say that many of those getting these non federal government MOH's are not deserving of some very high award for the bravery most have shown performing the deeds that they did.
The good news in my mind is that in Great Falls Montana, a story came out on 16 Feb. with regards to the state wanting to create more than just a letter of appreciation from the state for the families of their fallen heroes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They want to create a medal and have been searching for a name. They have suggested the name.. Medal of Honor... and apparently already gotten a backlash for such a suggestion. Great on those who gave that backlash. And to those in opposition can be added the names of the State branches of the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans. I would encourage you to read the whole story. It can be read at the following link... http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20130215/NEWS05/302150026/Salute-fallen-Bill-would-honor-families-fallen-troops-medal
These two groups do not seem to be against the move to create a medal for these heroes, just not in using the name Medal of Honor.
And good on them. Perhaps they can start a movement to make Washington DC know of their concerns for this proliferation of the very medal American has created to recognize these heroes of society.
And now, for some more pleasant news, On 15 February some historians, members of the Sons of Veterans of the Civil war and the 49th Regiment, Veteran Volunteer Infantry and others got to celebrate a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient at a cemetery in Iowa. The veteran was John Vale of the 2nd Minnesota Infantry and his Medal was earned exactly 150 years earlier at a place called Nollensville Tennessee. Kudos to all concerned for celebrating this man's heroism.
In that same battle was a Canadian by the name of James Flanagan from Montreal, who also was one of 8 in this action to be awarded a Medal of Honor.
Here are some of the participants in the ceremony for CW Medal of Honor recipient John Vale.
Note the new style marker indicating that this veteran was a recipient of the MOH at the base of his original grave marker.
For years an Iowa man has been taking part in dozens of ceremonies each year playing the role of President Abe Lincoln, and Lance V. Mack is playing that role as he appeared at Vale's service a few days back.
During the war there were often times when troops on either side in the conflict had to scourage the area they were in for supplies. This was the case in mid February of 1863 when Vale, Flanagan and 14 others were involved in the obtaining of supplies with in a little wagon train of 10 carriages. Four of these had broken off and gone a distance when they came under very heavy fire from about 150 Confederate Cavalry. A skirmish broke out that saw the men being rallied by their Sergeant and moved into a cabin, returning fire and ultimately rebuffing the enemy who turned away. Five of the Confederate soldiers were wounded and 3 of these ultimately became Prisoners of War. Four enemy horses were also killed and 3 were captured, as were 7 saddles and 3 guns. Two of the Union men were wounded in the battle.
James Flanagan was born in Ireland. He immigrated to Canada and later moved to the Louisville area of St. Lawrence County in New York State where he took up farming with his family.
Flanagan served about 3 years in the war with the Minnesota regiment. ( A net reference discovered noted that there were no less than 1,176 Canadians fighting with Mn units during the war)
After several years of service in the Civil War, Flanagan returned to the farming life in NY state where he married and raised a family of four boys.
When Flanagan died in 1905 he was buried in Louisville NY and now rests about 150 km's south west of his Canadian home at Montreal .
Again, his battle took place of 15 Feb., 1863, 150 years and one week ago today.