Pres. Obama will do the honor of presenting a Union Army officer the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, a century and a half after his valiant passing at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Relatives of the said Union Army officer along with Civil War history buffs have campaigned for him for decades. At long last, their efforts have come into fruition when the White House announced Tuesday, August 26, that the president himself has approved the giving of the Medal of Honor to 1st Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing.
According to the annals of the American Civil War history, Lieutenant Cushing was killed during the decisive three-day battle of Gettysburg. A confederate bullet hit him in the head while he was making a courageous stand against Pickett’s Charge.
Moreover, the US Congress had given a special exemption for Lieutenant’s Cushing’s case last December in lieu of his receiving the Medal of Honor posthumously. Normally, recommendations would have to be made two years after the act of valor was committed and the medal given after three years’ time.
Knowing the Civil War Hero
Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing was born in Wisconsin, raised in New York and was eventually buried in West Point, his alma mater, after his death on the 3rd of July, 1863. He was only 22 years old when he was killed.
He was the commander of 110 men as well as six cannons when the Confederates launched Pickett’s Charge, a major offensive strategy that would have turned the tide of war had it succeeded. Cushing and his men valiantly defended the Union stand in Cemetery Ridge. It was here that Cushing met his death via a Confederate bullet in his head.
Overall, the three-day battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, culminated to over 51,000 casualties. The Confederates came in strong against the Union troops but eventually retreated with huge losses. in the end, the South was never able to recover from its defeat. And in four months’ time, President Abraham Lincoln commemorated the skirmish in his Gettysburg Address.
According to historians, Cushing and his small band stood firm on their ground despite being severely bombarded by the enemy’s artillery. The 1st lieutenant had received severe wounds earlier in the battle, but he refused to to evacuate in the rear and let the reserve forces take over. Remarkably, he commanded for his remaining one piece to continue firing at the advancing Confederates. Cushing may have died that fateful day, yet his bravery allowed the Union Army to successfully repel the advances of the Confederates.
1st Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing wasn’t the only one who served the Union Army during the American Civil War. As a matter of fact, he had three other brothers and all of them served with the Union Army. As to this date, a monument of him along with his two brothers, Naval Commander William Cushing and Army 1st Lieutenant Howard Cushing – stands in the Cushing Memorial Park in Delafield, Wisconsin, his birthplace.
Two Other Soldier Recipients of the Medal of Honor
Pres. Obama will not only be giving the Medal of Honor to 1st Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing on the 15th of September this year.
A Medal of Honor will also be awarded posthumously to Army Spc. Donald P. Sloat, who died in action on January 17, 1970 during the Vietnam War at the young age of 20. According to reports, Sloat saved his comrades by picking up a grenade set off by a fellow soldier and used his body as a blast shield.
On the other hand, another Vietnam War veteran, Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins, plans to receive his Medal of Honor in person during the ceremony. Sergeant Major Adkins was in the US Army for 22 years before retiring. He was deployed to Vietnam thrice with the Special Forces. His Medal of Honor is for his courageous deeds during a battle in his second tour in 1966. The Vietnam War vet braved enemy fire to drag fellow soldiers to safety though he was wounded himself.