The Congressional Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military honor, awarded by Congress to members of the military. It is given to those “who distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”
The Navy, Army, and Air Force began to award the MOH in different years. The Navy began in 1861, the Army in 1862, and the Air Force in 1965 (the Air Force was not a separate branch of the service until 1947).
Over 3,500 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Of those, 1,523 were given for action in the Civil War. This is followed by World War II with 472 MOH recipients and the Indian Wars (1869 to 1890) at 426. A total of 618 MOHs were given posthumously. Nineteen members of the military have been awarded two medals for actions in different wars. (These are 50 of the most decorated war heroes in American history.)
Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to a wide array of privileges, some of which are trivial. Winners are invited to presidential inaugurations. Each recipient is entitled to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Recipients also receive additional retirement benefits and increase in retirement pay. (These are states with the best benefits for veterans.)
To identify the states with the most Medal of Honor recipients, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. States are ranked by the total number of MOH recipients who entered the armed services in the state.
To some extent, the number of recipients by state coincides with population size. However, the number is also heavily affected by when the state was admitted to the Union. For example, Massachusetts is third on the list with 265 MOH recipients. In terms of population, Massachusetts ranks 15th of all states, but it was the sixth state admitted to the Union. Meanwhile, California, the most populous state, ranks sixth with 138 MOH recipients. The state was admitted to the Union about six decades after Massachusetts.
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