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The Three Major U.S. Military Medals

December 31st, 2012 Seasonal

If you've seen a war movie, you're probably already aware of the various medals a soldier can receive. But what do they symbolize, exactly? As it turns out, there are dozens of commemorations that one can receive. If you've always wondered what the elaborate medals you see on a veteran's uniform represent, look no further! Here are three of the most significant ones.

1. Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that the United States Military gives out. The President himself is responsible for dispensing it, in the name of Congress, to those who have distinguished themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." The Medal of Honor is frequently awarded posthumously to those who have fallen in the line of duty.

2. Distinguished Service Cross. The Distinguished Service Cross is only handed out to those enlisted in the Army. Recipients of the Cross have demonstrated extreme gallantry and a willingness to risk their lives in combat. It has equivalent awards in the Navy and the Air Force, which are simply named the [should this be capitalized?] Cross.

3. Silver Star. The Silver Star is the third-highest award that a soldier in the U.S. Military can receive for demonstrating valor in the face of the enemy. Unlike the previous two, one does not have to be in a situation of high responsibility to receive this award. There have been a number of famous recipients of the Silver Star in its 80 years of use, including George S. Patton and Senator John Kerry.