Modern Medal of Honor Criteria Established
The US Army establishes most of what will become the modern criteria for a Medal of Honor, including the need for eyewitness testimony, an act that demonstrates "gallantry and intrepidity" above and beyond the call of duty, and a requirement that someone other than the awardee submit the recommendation. The first statute of limitations is established, dictating how much time may elapse between an act and submission for a Medal of Honor.
First Systematic Review Begins
A board of five retired general officers convenes to review every Medal of Honor granted between the Civil War and the 1915 intervention in Haiti. In their report, released in 1917, 911 Medals of Honor are struck for not adhering to modern standards.
The United States Enters World War 1
Americans from all walks of life respond to the call to arms. General Pershing leads the American Expeditionary Force to France.
"Pyramid of Honor" is born
An Act of Congress eliminates the former Certificate of Merit for soldiers and creates the Distiguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Silver Star. Consequently, the Medal of Honor becomes distinctive as the only award bestowed in the name of Congress at the President's behest. This was the most dramatic change in military awards in American history, and it occured during wartime.
World War 1 ends. Confusion about the criteria underpinning the new valor awards means only 4 Medal of Honors have been awarded by the time the guns fall silent.
Pershing's Systematic Review Concludes
Pershing orders a review of Distinguished Service Cross recipients to determine if any were wrongly denied the Medal of Honor. Over 100 additional recipients are indentified, including Sergeant Gerald York. Their actions warranted the award, yet they were overlooked due to mistakes or confusion regarding the new awards. Zero African-Americans and few members of other minorities are included. This endures as the only systematic review of WW1 Valor Awards.
World War 1 Statute of Limitations Expires
Three years after Armistice Day, the Statute of Limitations for submitting further Medal of Honor recommendations expires. Theoretically, no additional medals can be awarded without a change in the law.
Indian Citizenship Act Signed Into Law
Congress extends American citizenship to all Native-Americans residing in the United States. While Congress will go on to authorize systematic reviews of Valor Medals for Asian, African, Hispanic, and Jewish-Americans who served in WW2 and beyond, the passage of this act before those conflicts but after WW1 creates a unique discrepancy. This warrants the inclusion of Native Americans in any systematic study of WW1 veterans impacted by discrimination.
War Department "Memo on Use of Negro Manpower" Released
The War Department releases its official report on the use of African-American troops in World War One. It upholds segregation, compares African Americans unfavorably to other "members of the human family", recommends that in the next war no African-American officers be initially accepted for service, and suggests that no segregated unit above battalion strength be organized. In contrast, two African-American combat divisions served in World War One.
First Challenge to the Pershing Review
Michael Valente, an Italian-American immigrant, receives the Medal of Honor for his actions in World War 1 over a decade after the end of that conflict.
World War Two ends. Over 700,000 African-Americans served during the conflict in the US Armed Forces, and again not a single one receives a Medal of Honor.
US Military Segregation Abolished
President Truman signs Executive Order 9981 abolishing segregation on the basis of race, color, religion, or nation of origin.
Freddie Stowers Receives the Medal of Honor
The Department of the Army discovers a "misplaced" Medal of Honor recommendation for Corporal Freddie Stowers, an African-American doughboy with the 371st Infantry Regiment. Seventy-three years after he was killed in action on the Western Front in 1918, President George H.W. Bush presents Stowers' Medal of Honor to his two surviving sisters. Stowers is the first African-American from either World War to receive the Medal of Honor.
African-American World War Two Review Begins
The Department of the Army, through contract MDA903-93-C-0260, commissions a team assembled by Shaw University to study African-American units from WW2 to determine if any members were overlooked for the Medal of Honor. After reporting no African-Americans had been nominated, the Army authorizes the study group to conduct a systematic review of Distinguished Service Cross recipients to identify any who were improperly denied the Medal of Honor.
Asian-American World War Two Review Begins
An amendment to the Fiscal Year 1996 National Defense Authorization Act mandates the Departments of the Army and the Navy conduct investigations into Asian-Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross or the Navy Cross in World War Two to determine if any were eligible for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor.
African-American World War Two Review Culminates in 7 Awards
The Shaw Study recommends 10 African-American individuals be considered for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor, including one who did not receive the Distinguished Service Cross. The Department of the Army upgrades 7, and President Bill Clinton awards them their Medals of Honor.
Asian-American World War Two Review Culminates in 22 Awards
President Bill Clinton awards 22 Asian-American veterans, including Senator Daniel Inouye, their Medals of Honor.
Jewish and Hispanic American Review Begins Without World War One
Congress authorizes a review of all Jewish and Hispanic Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross recipients between 1941 and 2001, as well as any other names submitted in consultation with the Jewish War Veterans of America and other Veterans Service Organizations within a year of the Act's passing. Those veterans likewise had to serve in World War Two or later. World War One was completely excluded.
Jewish American Review Partially Expanded to World War One
Congress authorizes an extension of the 2001 review to cover Jewish-American recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross in World War One, provided supporting material for the upgrade of the award were received by the Secretary within one year. This is not consistent with the systematic nature of previous studies.
Jewish and Hispanic American Review Culminates in 24 Awards
Preisdent Obama awards 24 Medals of Honor to veterans of World War Two, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. This includes 17 Jewish-Americans, 2 Hispanic-Americans, and 1 African-American initially excluded from their award owing to their race, as uncovered by the study authorized in 2001.
Henry Johnson and William Shemin Awarded Medals of Honor for World War 1 Service
William Shemin, a Jewish-American WW1 veteran, recieves the Medal of Honor per the 2011 review. Additionally, Henry Johnson, an African-American member of the 369th "Harlem Hellfighters" in WW1, recieves the Medal of Honor. While Johnson recieved no American awards during the conflict, he did recieve the French Croix de Guerre with Palms. The total number of Medal of Honor recipients from World War 1 now stands at 121, including 5 double-recipients.
Valor Medals Review Task Force Established
Responding to a request from the Commissioners of the United States World War One Centennial Commission, its staff and volunteers organize the Valor Medals Review Task Force to begin planning for a systematic review of World War 1 Veterans akin to those undertaken for World War Two and subsequent conflicts.
VFW Endorses Task Force
The Veterans of Foreign Wars enacts Resolution 308 at their 119th National Convention, endorsing the Valor Medals Review Task Force and its efforts.
Research Team Established
The Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars (the permanent operating arm of the United States World War One Centennial Commission) concludes a memorandum of understanding with the George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War. After a national search, the Commission and Foundation elect to partner with the Robb Centre to complete the research objectives of the Task Force, supplemented by volunteers.
American Legion Endorses Task Force
At the 100th National Convention of the American Legion, Resolution 109 is passed, endorsing the Valor Medals Review Task Force and its efforts.
Congressional Black Caucus Veteran's Braintrust Endorses Task Force
After a briefing for the Veteran's Braintrust, its membership elects to endorse the Valor Medals Review Task Force and its efforts.
Public Unveiling at the Association of the US Army's Annual Meeting
The President of Park University and the Public Affairs Officer of the United States World War One Centennial Commission introduce three of the principal scholars involved in the Task Force; Dr. Dwight Mears, Dr. Jeffrey Sammons, and Dr. Timothy Westcott. They introduce the Task Force's objectives and research plans.
Task Force Participation in Armistice Centennial Commemorations
As part of the weeks' worth of centennial ceremonies organized by the Commission, several retired flag officers and the grandson of Sergeant York speak in support of the Valor Medals Review Task Force.
Task Force Reorganization
Responding to an increasing number of volunteers, the Task Force reorganizes from ad-hoc working groups into its current structure, comprised of three standing subcommittees. More details can be found on the "Who We Are" tab.
American GI Forum Endorsement
The American GI Forum, a Veteran's Service Organization dedicated to Hispanic veterans, endorses the Valor Medals Review Task Force and its efforts.
Authorizing Language Announced
Members of the 116th Congress announce bipartisan legislation authorizing the Valor Medals Review. S. 1218 is authored by Senator Van Hollen (D-MD) and co-sponsored by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Blunt (R-MO), Boozman (R-AR), Duckworth (D-IL) & Scott (R-SC). H.R. 2249 is authored by Representative Hill (R-AR) and co-sponsored by Representatives Cleaver (D-MO), Graves (R-MO) & Houlahan (D-PA). Each was submitted for inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act.
The Military Coalition Endorsement
The Military Coalition, comprising 32 Veterans' Service Organizations and advocacy groups, issues a letter of endorsement for S. 1218, H.R. 2249, and the Valor Medals Review Task Force and its efforts. A full list of TMC members can be found here: http://www.themilitarycoalition.org/tmc-members.html