The Congressional Medal of Honor Museum is located on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown. The Yorktown is permanently berthed at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, S.C., across the harbor from Charleston.The Museum opened in 1981.
According to Cindy Clark of Patriots Point's Education Department, the Medal was established by President Abraham Lincoln. The Medal is given for extraordinary acts above an beyond the Call of Duty. According to Clark, the Medal has been awarded over 3000 times. Most recently on October 15 to Captain William Swenson for actions in Afghanistan.
The Museum tells the story of the Medal and, more importantly, the stories of those who received it. Clark pointed out that one does not "win" the Medal of Honor, one is "awarded" or "receives" it. It is for this reason that those who are awarded the Medal of Honor are referred to as "recipients,"' not "winners".
One part of the Museum recognizes places named for Medal Winners. The most prominent of those is O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Closer to home, the VA Hospital in Charleston is named for Medal of Honor recipient, Ralph Johnson, a Charleston native. According to Clark, Johnson's sister, who is 92 and lives in Mount Pleasant, visits the hospital weekly to serve cookies and coffee to the patients.
The Museum is part of the regular Patriots Point admission. It is well worth a visit and is a fitting tribute to those who served above and beyond the call of duty. Plans are in the making to move the museum off the Yorktown to its own building in the Patriots Point complex.
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