On 12 July 1862, Pres. Lincoln signed into law the bill creating the army Medal of Honor.
Six months earlier, on 21 December 1861, the president had approved the creation of the same medal for the navy. The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest military decoration. It is awarded for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States . . .”
For more information about the Medal of Honor and its recipients, visit the websites of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the U.S. Army. To watch or listen to interviews with Medal of Honor recipients, visit the Pritzker Military Library website.