On December 9, 1861 Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced S. No. 82 in the United States Senate, a bill designed to “promote the efficiency of the Navy” by authorizing the production and distribution of “medals of honor”. On December 21st the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced “which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War).” President Lincoln signed the bill and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born.
This year marks the 150th anniversary that the first Medals of Honor were awarded. These Medals were first presented on March 25, 1863 to a group of six men for valiant acts performed during the Civil War. This monumental anniversary represents 150 years of courage and sacrifice on the part of the millions of men and women in uniform who defended our freedoms.