Message to a Medal of Honor recipient by Commandant of the Marine Corps, Alexander Vandegrift
‘That medal does not belong to you. It belongs to all the Marines who did not come home.’ He went on to say, ‘Don’t ever do anything that would tarnish that medal.’”Commandant of the Marine Corps, Alexander Vandegrift, Medal presented President Harry Truman
“Mellas knew that Hawke was letting him squirm. Then, without looking up, Hawke said, ‘Look, Mellas, in the Navy or Air Force they give you a medal for what the Marines call just doing their job. In the Marines you only get a medal for being braver than just doing your job.” Then he looked at Mellas. ‘You get in fixes where medals are handed out because you were unlucky and had to fix things, or because you were stupid and had to fix things. Be careful what you’re wishing for.”
This Medal of Honor does not belong to me. This medal belongs to every man and woman who has ever served their country. We were doing what we were trained to do. We were doing our job.
They said we were soft, that we would not fight, that we could not win. We are not a warlike nation. We do not go to war for gain or for territory; we go to war for principles, and we produce young men like these. I think I told every one of them that I would rather have that medal, the Congressional Medal of Honor, than to be President of the United States.
I’ve always felt that if I am deserving of the Medal of Honor, there are many, many others who are. I felt a little bad receiving it, so I received it on behalf of the fellows, because there’s no such thing as a single-handed war. There’s always a support group, and if you didn’t have people who supported you, you couldn’t fight a war.
Medal of Honor belongs to every man and woman who gives us the freedom today to be able to hold our flag and hold our heads up high and say we have the greatest country in the world. And that goes with the men and women in the past, and the men and women of today, and the men and women of the future. As long as Mike Thornton lives, that medal will always stand for all them. Not for me. Not for what I’ve done, but for what I was trained to do and what they have been trained to do to give us our freedom today.