The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is presented to a person who distinguishes him or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while:
- engaged in action against an enemy of the United States;
- engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
Fewer than 3,500 Medals of Honor have ever been awarded.
The Medal of Honor was first authorized by Congress in 1861 as the Navy’s highest personal decoration, with the Army Medal of Honor authorized in 1862 and the Air Force Medal of Honor in 1956. The medals are presented by the President in the name of Congress.
The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to mint and issue up to 100,000 gold $5 and up to 500,000 silver $1 coins in recognition and celebration of the establishment of the Medal of Honor in 1861.
As authorized, the United States Mint shall produce $5 gold and $1 silver coins in both proof and uncirculated qualities. The designs are emblematic of the traditions, legacy and heritage of the Medal of Honor and the distinguished service of its recipients.