The Medal of Honor is the highest military award the U.S. can give out to the brave troops who go above and beyond the call of duty while engaging the enemy. The medal is authorized by Congress and is awarded at a White House ceremony by the President of the United States.
To date, nearly 4,000 brave troops have earned the distinguished medal.
But what some people don’t know is that there are three different variations of the medal, each with unique details.
So, check out five things you didn’t know about the Navy’s Medal of Honor.
5. The Navy had it first
Iowa Senator James W. Grimes first introduced the medal via a bill to Congress, who quickly approved the idea. President Lincoln then inked the medal into law. The Medal of Honor was originally struck and formed on Dec. 21, 1861 after the design was approved for Navy use. Months later, the Army developed their own version of the medal on Jul. 12, 1862 to honor their soldiers.
You’re welcome, Army!
4. So many stars
The medal features 34 stars that represented the number of states part of the U.S. at the time — including the 11 Confederate states. Kansas was the 34th state to be admitted to the union on Jan. 29. 1861 and accounts for that 34th star.
The distinguished Medal of Honor — Navy version. (Image from U.S. Navy)
3. The centerpiece’s story
The medal showcases Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and war. On top of her helmet perches an owl, which represents wisdom. The man next to her holds snakes in his hand, representing discord. The insignia is commonly referred to as “Minerva repulsing discord.”
2. The medal’s original ribbon
Today, blue fabric holds the medal around the recipient’s neck. The original ribbon, however, showcased a blue bar with 13 red and white stripes running vertically.
1. The fine details
The medal, as a whole, is an inverted, five-point star, the tips of which are filled with laurel and oak leaves, which signify victory and strength.