July 12, 1862The Medal of Honor is authorized by the United States Congress.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress, and is conferred only upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish 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." Due to the nature of its selection criteria, it is often awarded posthumously, with more than half of all awards since 1941 given to individuals who were deceased. As the award citation includes the phrase "in the name of Congress", it is sometimes erroneously called the "Congressional Medal of Honor". The official title, however, is simply the "Medal of Honor".