Have you ever said that someone who did a great job went “above and beyond the call of duty”? That phrase is actually part of the official criteria for receiving the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor in combat. It is presented “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.” This year on Veteran’s Day, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing a new stamp highlighting this award and the very special men who received it for their service during the Second World War, titled Medal of Honor: World War II.
The President presents the Medal of Honor on behalf of Congress, which is why the award is sometimes called the Congressional Medal of Honor. The road to receiving this medal is a long one. After being recommended, honorees are reviewed by a lengthy chain of command, starting with their superiors and ending with the Secretary of Defense and the President. Of the 464 men who received the Medal of Honor for their actions during World War II, more than half were killed in action.
The idea for the Medal of Honor was conceived during the first year of the Civil War. Men were fighting for their country, yet the nation had no formal system for recognizing or rewarding acts of heroism. Then a senator from Iowa, James W. Grimes, introduced a bill to “promote the efficiency of the Navy” by distributing “medals of honor.” President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law on December 21, 1861. Lincoln signed a similar measure on behalf of the U.S. Army on July 12, 1862, and the country had two Medals of Honor: one for sailors, and one for soldiers.
The stamps will be released on Monday, November 11, 2013, at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m.