The Medal of Honor is worn by only a very few. And so it should be.
It is recognition of a quality of heroism that surpasses that of duty. It is given to those who have conducted themselves with conspicuous self-sacrifice, putting the lives of their brothers and sisters, before their own, under inconceivably dire and dangerous conditions of combat. It is the nation’s way of recognizing and thanking those individuals for both the results of their actions and for the example they give to all who serve.
Medal of Honor recipients know that their awards are recognition of the courage of their fellow unit members as well. When they receive the MOH, they so often do so in the name of those with whom they fought. They know, too, that that award carries with it certain life-long responsibilities. They represent the qualities of honor, duty and country wherever they go. They have the honor of casting light on the many issues that concern and affect veterans and active duty troops wherever they go. They are often called upon to represent veterans and active duty troops in public forums.
The MOH is not just an award, it is a lifestyle.
There are, of course, many intangible benefits that MOH recipients enjoy, but there are also some very tangible benefits as well. Here are six of those benefits that MOH recipients enjoy for the rest of their lives.
- They are given preferred access to military academies for their dependents.
- They receive a monthly stipend of $1,299.
- They have free, priority space-A travel benefits. This means that they and their dependents, like active duty military members and some veterans, can “hitch” rides on military aircraft.
- There are special parking spaces set aside for them at on-base amenities. They have life-long access to other military benefits like the commissary, on-post gyms, pools, and recreational facilities.
- They are given a special status in the exchange of salutes. Military members are not required to salute a Medal of Honor recipient, but are encouraged to do so when a MOH recipient is physically wearing the MOH, even if he is in civilian clothes. Even American Presidents have been known to salute MOH recipients. The recognition is not of rank, but in honor of the MOH.
- MOH recipients are allowed full burial honors, including: a nine-member team of 6 pall bearers, a chaplain, an Officer-in-Charge, or Non-Commissioned OIC, and a bugler. He or she is also allowed a headstone with gold lettering.
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Those who have served in combat know what courage under fire looks like. They also know that there are some acts of bravery that go far beyond the normal levels that all who are in combat exhibit on a regular basis. When we salute a Medal of Honor winner, we do so not so much because we are in awe, but because we know that they received that honor for demonstrating a level of love for their brother and sister unit members that must be recognized.
The Veterans Site wishes to express its respect and honor to all those who have received the Medal of Honor and for all those with whom they served. We who served with you thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The nation is honored by your having served in the uniforms of the United States military.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.