Cushing deja vu? Medal of Honor considered

Didn’t we hear about this just a couple of years ago?

Wisconsin Civil War hero could get Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON — Alonzo H. Cushing is close to receiving the Medal of Honor, almost 150 years after his heroic actions at the Civil War battle at Gettysburg.

A little-noticed provision of a House-approved defense bill would waive the time limit for posthumously bestowing the nation’s highest military honor, allowing the medal to be bestowed on the 22-year-old Union artillery lieutenant who died during Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863.

If passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, the measure would end a decades-long struggle by a 92-year-old resident of Cushing’s native Wisconsin.

“I’m glad that it’s finally happening,” Margaret Zerwekh said by phone from Delafield, where she lives on land once owned by the Cushing family.

Her efforts date back to the mid-1980s, when she wrote then-Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis. The campaign to award the medal to Cushing has been championed by other Wisconsin lawmakers.

Yes, it was just two years ago…. Like many things these days, Alonzo Cushing’s recommendation stalled in legislative gridlock.

I’m a fence sitter on this one.  Cushing’s actions on July 3, 1863 deserve every recognition a grateful nation can bestow.  The Medal of Honor is the least the nation could do.  However, I’m not fond of retroactive awards which are decades after the event.  I’ve always felt such awards open the door for more retroactive awards.  Eventually the law unintended consequences plays in.

Yes, I know there are extenuating circumstances here.  Yes, I know there were different criteria in 1863, and the Medal has evolved over 150 years.  But that is even more reason to think twice.   Same might be said for Richard Winters of “Band of Brothers” fame (that’s right, Brécourt Manor was just 68 years ago yesterday…).  Deserving? Yes!  Yes!  But for some reason Winters was not awarded the Medal of Honor…. again, extenuating circumstances. My first instinct is respect – both for Winters’ actions and to the decision of his contemporaries.

History is full of such circumstances.  It’s our role as the story tellers to explain it all.

One thought on “Cushing deja vu? Medal of Honor considered

  1. Since my family is from Wisconsin I think the can of worms can be opened and closed quickly for Cushing 🙂

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