VA Central Iowa Health Care System
National Medal of Honor Day
March 25th marks National Medal of Honor Day. On this historic day in 1863, the very first Medals of Honor were presented. Two years prior on December 9, 1861, Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced a bill to "promote the efficiency of the Navy" by authorizing the production and distribution of "medals of honor". On December 21st the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced, "which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War)." President Lincoln signed the bill and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born. Since that time, three similar, yet distinct versions of the Medal of Honor are awarded, one for each Military Department (Army, Navy, and Air Force). The Navy version is awarded to those serving in the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as to Coast Guard Recipients during times of war.
You may not realize that Iowa PROUDLY was home to over 50 Medal of Honor Recipients and we are in the process of making sure these HEROES are honored at VA Central Iowa Health Care System. As a LEAD project, VA employee and Veteran, Bruce Thome took on the important challenge of finding a place to display these accomplishments at our facility. After a lot of research and help from subject matter experts like the Iowa Historical Society, Veteran Thome presented his plan to leadership – who unanimously supported the project. Today you can see the beginning of what we consider a hallmark at our Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. In Building 1 (main hospital), in the hallway that connects our Primary Clinics to our Emergency Department, you can find 13 beautifully framed Medal of Honor collages. Next time you are at our facility, make sure to stop by this Hall of Honor and read about Iowa’s finest!