Friday, March 25 is Medal of Honor Day, and Chattanooga will kick-off the 2022 National Commemoration.
Medal of Honor Day has been designated by the United States Congress as "a day when we, as a nation, pause to reflect on the lives and actions of our Medal of Honor recipients, the men and one woman who have been honored with our highest award for combat valor. Those names - - Sgt. York, Audie Murphy, William Carney, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and others - - are woven through the history of our nation and are synonymous with the character traits exhibited by each: courage, patriotism, sacrifice, commitment, integrity and citizenship."
Officials said, "March 25 was chosen as Medal of Honor Day for a reason that shouts Chattanooga.
"On March 25, 1863, the first Medals of Honor were presented to six members of Andrews’ Raiders.
On April 12, 1862, 24 volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James Andrews, commandeered a Confederate locomotive named “The General” outside of Big Shanty, Georgia (now Kennesaw) and took it northward toward Chattanooga – doing as much damage as possible to the vital Western and Atlantic Railroad line as they went. Out of fuel, Andrews and his men abandoned the locomotive and scattered into the woods before being captured by Confederate troops. All were put on trial and convicted for “acts of unlawful belligerency” or being unlawful combatants and spies. Shortly thereafter, Andrews and seven of the Raiders were executed by hanging with the remaining held as prisoners of war. For their acts of valor in “The Great Locomotive Chase,” six members of Andrews’ Raiders were awarded the first Medals of Honor in our country’s history on March 25, 1863. Ultimately, 19 of the 24 members of Andrews’ Raiders would receive the Medal of Honor for their incredible acts of valor on that day."
How can local citizens commemorate Medal of Honor Day?
1. Log on to the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center [www.mohhc.org] at sunrise on the 25th [live at 7:15 a.m.] and join us Livestream as Chattanoogans place a wreath at the monument honoring Andrews' Raiders, the first recipients of the Medal of Honor.
2. Two for the price of one admission all day at the MOHHC. Grab your friends - - corral your neighbors - - bring the youngest members of the family and visit us.
3. The Center’s newest exhibit, Chattanooga To Challenger, is ready for viewing. Come help the community commemorate our unique place in history as the 'birthplace of the Medal of Honor' and view the most recent treasure added to the MOHHC: Commander Dick Scobee's Space Medal of Honor.
That visual timeline of courage, integrity, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism and citizenship will unfold as visitors tour the Center and each visitor will be impacted by these ordinary men [and one woman] who accomplished extraordinary tasks in service to this nation.
4. At 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 25, Sheena Striker, the director of the Hardin County Museum, shares Jacob Parrott's story; Parrott was the first recipient among Andrews Raiders. The Hardin County Museum, home of Parrott’s Medal of Honor, graciously loaned it to the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center for 2022’s special exhibit.
5.. More information about other programs and activities are on-line [www.MOHHC.org] and on the MOHHC’s social media sites.
6. Fly your U.S. flag and share the significance of the day with family members and friends.
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Linda Moss Mines, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Historian, is the vice-chairman of the board of trustees and the vice-president, education, MOHHC and the regent, Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR.