Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of Medal of Honor recipients among the states — 382, according to the Medal of Honor Society. Only New York has more at 674. The numbers reflect, in part, the importance of these states in sending recruits to the Army and Navy during the Civil War, when the Medal of Honor was first awarded. Of the more than 3,500 Medals of Honor that have been presented for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty since Abraham Lincoln authorized the award, 1,522 went to those who served in defense of the Union.
There are 139 Medal of Honor recipients credited to Southeast Pennsylvania, home of the Medal of Honor Grove on the campus of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. (“Credited” means where they are recorded as having entered service.) Philadelphia has the most recipients, at 121, with two from Bucks County, four from Delaware County, five from Montgomery County, and seven from Chester County.
More than half of those 139 Medals of Honor were awarded for actions during the Civil War, 78. Thirty-two were awarded during what are recorded as Indian war campaigns or the interim period between conflicts; three during the Spanish-American War of of 1898; three during the Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901 in China; one during World War II; one during the Korean War; and three during Vietnam.
Most of the area’s recipients — 118 — were in the Army when they performed the act of valor that earned them the Medal of Honor. Sixteen were in the Navy and five were Marines.
Each of these heroes, as well as the more than 3,500 men and one woman who have been awarded a Medal of Honor, are honored in the 42-acre Medal of Honor Grove. This beautiful arboretum and bird habitat honors the recipients by state — there are areas for each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — and individually.