Medal of Honor Commemorative Gold Coin
This year (2011), two new coins are being made to commemorate the Medal of Honor. I've chosen the gold coin for this Coin of the Month, but both the gold and the silver coins are covered on the Commemorative Coins page.
The Medal of Honor is presented for courage in battle against an enemy force. It's the highest award that can be bestowed upon a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The idea of recognizing individuals' acts of bravery dates all the way back to General George Washington, who created an award in 1782. Although that award was a cloth purple heart rather than a Medal of Honor, it was the first official award for soldiers of the United States who clearly stood out by risking their lives above and beyond the call of duty.
The idea of a medal for valor came up early in the Civil War. A law creating a Navy medal of valor was signed in 1861, followed by an Army medal in 1862. Although the Medal of Honor was created for the Civil War, Congress made it a permanent decoration in 1863. Almost 3,400 members of the Armed Services have received the award for heroic actions in battle since that time.
Are you wondering how you can make a coin about a medal? Well, this is not the first time this has been done! In 2004, the back of the five-cent coin was devoted to a medal that Thomas Jefferson had the United States Mint make. You can read about it on the Westward Journey Nickel Series page.