The Confederate Medal of Honor

confederate flag
(Wikipedia)

The Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe has a new exhibit displaying five Medals of Honor awarded to Arizonans. They include a medal awarded to an Apache army scout in 1875, and a medal posthumously awarded to Army Sergeant Manuel V. Mendoza after a review of military records discovered that he had been denied the award during WWII due to prejudice.

The Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest military honor. It’s given for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. It was created by Congress during the Civil War to recognize the bravest Union soldiers. It’s been bestowed upon  3,469 recipients. More than half of them were given during the Civil War, even though the U.S. has been in several large wars since then.

Considering the history of the U.S. Medal of Honor, I was offended when I recently discovered there’s also a Confederate Medal of Honor. It’s bestowed posthumously by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to rebel soldiers proven to have exhibited uncommon bravery fighting against the U.S. government. The medal, which has been awarded 50 times since 1977, bears the Great Seal of the Confederate States and the words, “Honor. Duty. Valor. Devotion.”

The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime for an individual to pretend to be a Medal of Honor recipient in order to obtain financial gain. The deceased recipients of the Confederate Medal of Honor can’t benefit from their awards, but perhaps their descendants or other living people can, and that shouldn’t be legal either.

If we’re going to allow deceased enemies of the United States to receive awards for valor, then I would rather see Native American resistance leaders like Tecumseh get them. At least the Indians were fighting for their freedom, instead of trying to preserve an immoral economic system based upon human slavery.

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