The Medal of Honor has been around since the Civil War, when Congress created it and President Lincoln signed the honor into law as a means of recognizing outstanding acts of military courage and sacrifice. Today it is also awarded for civilian heroism, such as actions taken by first responders and rescue workers in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “Choosing Courage,” which is published in collaboration with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, describes the actions of a handful of recipients from each war Americans have fought in beginning with World War II up to and including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Here’s an excerpt from Choosing Courage:
“Jeremiah Denton was forced by prison guards to be interviewed by a foreign journalist for a propaganda film. He was supposed to denounce the war in Vietnam and say that American servicemen were war criminals. Instead, he shambled into the interview room with a grim look on his face, stared up at the bright camera lights, and began blinking his eyes in a deliberate way. The guards didn’t understand what he was doing, but American officials who later saw the film realized Denton was spelling out T-O-R-T-U-R-E in the dots and dashes of Morse code with his his blinks. It was the first information they had received about what the POWs were facing.”
(Artisan, 226 pp.)