Often, though thankfully less and less now, you see a reference to the medal being called the Congressional Medal of Honor when of course there is no such thing. Years ago, the Congress gave the authority to a group to form an association. That group were those that had actually earned the medal over years. Congress required them to use the words Congressional Medal of Honor Society. But that did not automatically make the name of the medal the same. It is in fact simply.. the Medal of Honor.
Well folks, as often we also see another point of confusion. Web sites and many in the press often call another medal the Medal of Honor when in fact it is the CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL, something entirely different.
This is very frustrating as it not only gives misinformation, in effect it downgrades the actual real thing.
I truly wish someone would create a law actually forbidding the use on the phrase "MEDAL OF HONOR" unless of course it is THE Medal of Honor. Perhaps some fines would smarten folks up.
On a related matter, recent stories again reminded us about the incredible codetalkers, but in so doing many referred to the medal presented to these heroes as the Medal of Honor when it was actually the Congressional Gold Medal that they were awarded. Same thing not that long ago for those involved in the recovery of stolen war art in Germany and elsewhere. These men became known as the Monuments Men, and were sent off on a mission to locate and seize stolen war art and returned same to their rightful owners. I believe a movie will be shortly released on these men which I encourage all to see.
The above is not for a minute to suggest that these two groups were not worthy of recognition. Clearly they were. My issue is that we ought to properly remember them as the heroes they are and also remember how they were rewarded.. not how they were not.
Over the years there have been many cases were someone has claimed that they were the recipient of the MOH and other medals and participated in many a battle they did not. For years the FBI and others have been keeping very close eyes on the problem. Not long ago I heard that the matter was so prevalent that there were more imposters than actual bonafide recipients still alive. Heck there was even the case of a JUDGE making these false claims and evidencing same apparently with fake evidence on the walls of his very courtroom.
In 2005 national efforts to curb the problem were rewarded with the creation of the Stolen Valor Act which made several actions illegal. One of these was to claim being a recipient in hopes of some sort of a gain...maybe a job,.. or access to clubs or financial benefits like loans etc.
Soon some who chose to fake heroism were brought before the courts and eventually the law was struck down due to the individual's right to freedom of expression and other criteria. Recently the law was reintroduced nationally to better reflect the concerns in the court rulings.
In the mean time.. most recently the state of Pennsylvania has taken matters in its own hands and made moves to create a state data base to list all state... and perhaps all national MOH recipients and possibly even include other medals of heroism as well. A matter that I thought others have also moved on.
While attempting to protect the sanctity of the medal and the heroism being rewarded, the state is to be congratulated. But perhaps it did not go far enough. It could have started a trend for other states to follow by introducing for discussion the creation of a new state law. One that that forbids ANYONE in the state...including the state government from creating any medal and calling it a Medal of Honor. Taking it further, same discussion should include giving a date by which any current "Medal of Honor" programs at any level other than federal, and within the state must rename their programs by a given date.
Currently many professional organizations across the country use the trerm for its medals. Police forces and fire department and lawyers and local mayors etc have numerous programs that use this title for their awards program. It delineates from THE Medal of Honor.. a national award, and ought not to be allowed. A few minutes on a regular basis on the net will produce lots of hits of groups who use the term other than the US President's award.
AGAIN THIS IS NOT FOR A MINUTE TO SAY that many of the recipients of said medal at other than federal level, are not worthy of some distinction. It just ought not to have the same name as the medal that can only be awarded by the President of the United States.
Surely such a move would in itself be a major boost to the morale of those so entitled and would do wonders to further protect the image of THE Medal of Honor.
Spend a few minutes reading any of the press releases of the USCG and you will immediately come to the conclusion that somewhere in the world probably daily there are many men and women of the Guard that are risking their lives in the work they do to save.. and to protect.. wherever they go. Recently in this space I told of their incredible record over the years of saving OVER 1 MILLION lives in this work.
Regular readers of this space will know that a few weeks ago I gave coverage to the great work the foundation and the guard did in assisting with the clean up at ST Elizabeth's cemetery in Washington DC. The very cemetery were Joseph Noil a Nova Scotia born Medal of Honor recipient is buried and who's grave was recently discovered. The same land is also home, on another piece mind you, of the new multi million dollar headquarters for the USCG and in their respect to their lone Medal of Honor hero Douglas Munro, they have named their HQ buildings.
Well now the Foundation has jumped into the fray, and are most welcome. A recent blog told you of the production of a two coin set in honour of Munro, the Canadian born at Vancouver BC. In his hounor the coin set was introduced with a purpose as hounorable as the man was. All funding raised is to be steered towards a new Douglas Munro Scholarship Program, which will provide assistance to children of serving members who qualify, and are seeking assistance to attend higher education at the college level.
Here are the two coins in the set. Each is numbered and there is a very limited number that have been produced. This gorgeous keepsake was designed by the family and on the face contains a likeness to Douglas while the reverse, and thus the two coins, shows a likeness to a statue created in his honour and also an image of the Medal of Honor.
I am told there are still a few available and supporters of this blog should support this cause if possible. Read more at... http://www.coastguardfoundation.org/connect/news/329-douglas-munro-challenge-coin-available-now
In the words of this great federal agency...
The Coast Guard Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of the men and women of the Coast Guard and their families. Founded more than 40 years ago, the Coast Guard Foundation provides education, support and relief for the brave men and women, who enforce maritime law, protect our homeland and preserve the environment. The Coast Guard Foundation aims to strengthen their service to our nation by encouraging them to excel on- and off-duty.
The Coast Guard Foundation supports many programs and projects through donations from individuals, corporations, grants and fundraising events. We provide college scholarships to dependents of enlisted personnel on active duty, who are retired, or serving in the reserves. The Foundation funds recreational and family-oriented facilities, and supports education and morale programs at bases and on ships around the nation.
In times of loss, we offer financial relief to Coast Guard families who lose their possessions in natural disasters. When Coast Guard families suffer the ultimate loss, losing a loved one in the line of duty, the Foundation provides scholarship and relief funds to support the families during their most trying times.
The Foundation supports academic, athletic and leadership excellence for cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
The Foundation supports the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the volunteer arm of the service, providing units with critical funding for boating safety and mission critical support.
Kudo's to the USCG and the foundation and the members of each for the work they do and for honouring Douglas in so many ways and very much keeping his story alive.
see you on Wednesday