Prior to the first Battle of Bull Run in Virginia on July 21, 1861, only five soldiers and one sailor had earned, Medals of Honor. In the Bull Run battle alone, 11 soldiers and Civilian Contract Surgeon Mary E. Walker earned Medals of Honor.
Walker was the only female recipient of a Medal of Honor. On Nov. 11, 1865, President Andrew Johnson signed a bill to present Dr. Mary E. Walker with the medal. Her citation read as follows:
"Whereas it appears from official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, has rendered valuable service to the Government, and her efforts have been earnest and untiring in a variety of ways, and that she was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Kentucky, upon recommendation of Major Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as Contract Surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers in the fields and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as a Contract Surgeon, whereas in opinion of the President, an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made. It is ordered that a testimonial thereof shall be made and given to the said Mary E. Walker, and that the usual Medal of Honor be given to her."
In 1917 her Congressional Medal of Honor, along with medals of 910 others was taken away when Congress revised the Medal of Honor standards to include only "actual combat with an enemy." A relative told the New York Times that she refused to give back her medal and wore it every day until her death in 1919.
An Army board reinstated Mary E. Walker her medal posthumously in 1977, citing her "distinguished gallantry, her self sacrifice, patriotism, dedication, and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex."
Please keep all of our military personnel (male and female) and their families in your prayers.
Charles R. Pearson
Chaplain,Malvern Legion Post 375