More than 150 years after his courageous death in the Battle of Gettysburg, an officer in the Union Army is being awarded the highest military decoration that the United States has to offer, thanks to a campaign by his descendants and Civil War buffs that has lasted decades.
The White House announced yesterday that President Obama has approved the Medal of Honor for 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing, who was killed in the line of duty while standing his ground against Pickett’s Charge during the pivotal, three-day Battle of Gettysburg.
Congress has to grant a special exemption in December of last year in order for Lt. Cushing to receive the award posthumously, as recommendations normally have to be made within two years of the heroic act, and the medal awarded within three years.
Cushing was born in Delafield, Wisconsin, raised in Fredonia, New York, and buried at his alma mater, West Point, after being killed on July 3, 1863, at age 22. He commanded somewhere around 110 men and six cannons, defending the Union position on Cemetery Ridge against Pickett’s Charge, a major Confederate thrust that could have turned the tide in the war. Cushing received a bullet wound in the head.
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