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Chairman Jeff Miller: Medal of Honor Statement for Congressional Record

Mar 25, 2011 Issues: Veterans

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to reflect on “Medal of Honor Day,” which was celebrated last week on March 25, 2011, and to make a few comments regarding those who have received the Nation’s highest honor.

Any service member who takes the field of battle knowing the perils of war in defense of our liberty is already worthy of our greatest praise. There are, however, a select few who, when presented with a situation requiring them to go above and beyond the call of duty, almost always at risk to their own life, do so, and willingly. It is these service members who enter an elite fraternity of those who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Since its inception during the Civil War, the Medal of Honor has acted as the highest military decoration a member of our Armed Forces can be awarded. Of the millions who have nobly defended our nation, only 3,454 have been bestowed this honor.

After reading numerous Medal of Honor citations, it is clear they are the bravest of the brave. Stories such as Pfc. Ross McGinnis demonstrate the valor embodied by these extraordinary few and represent all that we hold dear as Americans. Pfc. McGinnis was only 19 years old when serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was mortally wounded when he fell on a grenade that had been thrown into his vehicle. The four other men in his vehicle survived the blast and owe their lives to their fallen brother. No words can fully express the fearlessness Pfc. McGinnis displayed that day, nor can I fully express my admiration for him, or for the 3,453 others that share his select company.

We celebrate not just the 85 recipients who still walk among us today, but also the more than 3,300 who graced us with their presence on this earth. Let us all remember their selflessness and may their heroism never be forgotten.