“The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is most often presented to its recipient by the President of the United States in the name of Congress.” Congressional Medal of Honor Society
More times than not, the Medal of Honor is presented posthumously, the recipients having sacrificed their lives to save others.
The Medal dates back to the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln approved legislation on Dec. 21, 1861, on behalf of the Navy. Legislation for the Army medal was approved on July 12, 1862.
The Medal of Honor Grove was conceived by Kenneth Wells, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, E.F. Hutton, Gen. Omar Bradley and others at Freedoms Foundation, and the site was dedicated on the Foundation’s campus in 1964. The first four state areas were dedicated in 1968.
The Grove, 42 acres of natural woodland, is the oldest living memorial honoring the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients. (All men but for one — Civil War surgeon Mary Walker.) An area of land is set aside for the recipients in each of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Each state has a seven-foot obelisk centered on a 25-square-foot brick plaza. The recipients accredited by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to that state are identified by name, rank and service branch on the obelisk. Recipients are additionally honored with a ground marker engraved with their name, branch of service and the date and location of the act of valor.
The first obelisks were made of fiberglass but, thanks to sponsoring organizations and donors, most have been replaced with obelisks made of stone — often stone native to that particular state. To date, 21 fiberglass obelisks remain.
The Henry Knox Museum, devoted to Medal recipients, was dedicated in 1966. In 1979, the Grove welcomed the Chaplains Memorial, a tribute to the nine chaplains who have received the Medal of Honor. Six years later, the Ancient Order of Hibernians erected an obelisk dedicated to the more than 160 Medal recipients who were not U.S. citizens and therefore had no home state.
The Grove is maintained by a separate non-profit organization, the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove. To learn more about the Friends, the Grove or for information on tours, visit www.friendsmohgrove.org.
The Medal of Honor Grove is open from sunrise to sunset. Rules for visiting are here.
View and print the Medal of Honor Grove map here.
For more information on the Freedoms Foundation campus, view here.