Illinois State Military Museum Houses Medals of Honor, History of Valor PDF Print E-mail
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Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:05

SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/23/2012)(readMedia)-- In 2007, March 25 was established as National Medal of Honor Day, the official day that honors the servicemembers of the U.S. military whose actions of valor inspired generations and the nation.

The action performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his comrades and must have involved risk of life.

Illinois has been home to nearly 110 Medal of Honor recipients who have served in the Illinois National Guard beginning with the Civil War. Two of the original medals as well of decades of history is preserved within the walls of the Illinois Military State Museum.

There the many examples in the Illinois National Guard like 1st Sgt. Johannes S. Anderson of Finland, who entered service from Chicago, assigned the Illinois National Guard's Company B, 132nd Infantry, 33rd Division, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions at Consenvoye, France during World War I.

His citation reads "While his company was being held up by intense artillery and machinegun

fire, First Sergeant. Anderson, without aid, voluntarily left the company and worked his way to the rear of the (machinegun) nest that was offering the most stubborn resistance. His advance was made through an open area and under constant hostile fire, but the mission was successfully accomplished, and he not only silenced the gun and captured it, but also brought back with him 23 prisoners."

Civil War veteran Sgt. George F. Rebmann of Schuyler County, entered service at Browning, with Company B, 119th Illinois Infantry, he received the Medal of Honor for capturing a confederate flag April 9, 1865 during a battle at Fort Blakely, Ala.

Anderson and Rebmann are among many heroes who served in the Illinois National Guard or Militia who received the medal for valor on the battlefield. Both Anderson's and Rebmann's medals are among the many artifacts at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield detailing the Illinois National Guard's history from the Civil War to present.

While the day was made official only three years ago, the legacy of the Medal of Honor and the servicemembers who were awarded it span more than 150 years of Illinois history.

President Abraham Lincoln, a veteran of the Illinois Militia, signed a bill issuing the highest military decoration on July 12, 1862. He called it the Medal of Honor. Lincoln intended for the medal to stand as a symbol of the bravery and selflessness individual's display in combat.

The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President in the name of Congress to a person who distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty. Military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while 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.

The Army regulation recognizes the incontestable proof of the performance of the service will be exacted and each recommendation for the award of this decoration will be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

The Medal of Honor is presented to those who make a major sacrifice and some who make the ultimate sacrifice. Those who were killed in action were awarded the medal posthumously.

As President George W. Bush said regarding the Medal of Honor, "Citations are also written in the most simple of language, needing no embellishment or techniques of rhetoric. They record places and names and events that describe themselves. The medal itself bears only one word and needs only one, valor."

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