Memorial Day and Medals of Honor

By Ryan Powers

In honor of memorial day, I thought I’d note that the oldest surviving Medal of Honor recipient, John Finn died yesterday at the age of 100.

cushingFinn’s write up reminded me that I also wanted to mention an on-going Medal of Honor dust up. 1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing died at Gettysburg in 1863. Margaret Zerwekh — a 90 year-old woman who lives on land once occupied by Cushing’s family in Wisconsin — led a 20-year-long campaign to get Cushing the Medal of Honor for his actions at Gettysburg. Cushing’s medal was recently approved by the Secretary of the Army and Zerwkh hoped that the medal would be presented to the mayor of Cushing’s birth place, Delafield, WI. But now some “New York interlopers” (!) from New York are trying to steal the show, apparently. All Things Considered had Zerwekh on last weekend, to explain the issue:

RAZ: When you finally heard from the secretary of the army that Lieutenant Cushing will be getting a Medal of Honor, what was your reaction?

ZERWEKH: I jumped up and down, and then I sat down, and I picked up the phone again and I called everybody who had supported the effort. Unfortunately, I called the Fredonia Public Library, which had given me information, that’s Fredonia, New York.

RAZ: Uh-huh. And that’s where he actually moved to as a young boy.

ZERWEKH: That’s where the family moved to. And so what happened when I called the library to tell them, they called the mayor, their mayor. And now the mayor of Fredonia is trying to get this medal.

Jerks. But perhaps better than these communities fighting over the medal, someone should locate Cushing’s descendants and present them with the medal. Some sort of Medal of Honor timesharing agreement just doesn’t really seem appropriate.