Medal of Honor
|The first formal system for
rewarding acts of individual gallantry by American soldiers was
established by George Washington on August 7, 1782, when he
created the Badge of Military Merit, designed to recognize "any
singularly meritorious action."
Between 1919 and 1942, the Navy issued two separate versions of
the Medal of Honor, one for non-combat bravery and the other for
combat-related acts. Official accounts vary, but presumably the
combat Medal of Honor was known as the "Tiffany Cross", after
the company that manufactured the medal. "The Tiffany" was first
issued in 1919, but was rare and unpopular, partly because it
was presented both for combat and non-combat events. As a
result, in 1942 the United States Navy reverted to a single
Medal of Honor, awarded only for heroism.
Since the beginning of World War II, the medal has been awarded
for extreme bravery beyond the call of duty while engaged in
action against an enemy. Arising from these criteria,
approximately 60% of the medals earned during and after World
War II have been awarded posthumously.