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Author Topic: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor  (Read 6776 times)

Offline Kohima

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Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« on: April 16, 2016, 09:58:13 PM »
It has been suggested that I start a thread on the Medal of Honor.

I would hope we could discuss the topic passionately and openly with no restrictions. This should be possible on the freedom forum.
All aspects of the Medal of Honor, good and bad, can be discussed. The topic is wide open to your thoughts and opinions. Tell it like it is.
However, please be civil as usual.

Personally, I am most disturbed that an individual can be awarded the MOH, legally keep it forever but is not allowed by law to sell it.
I can't believe this isn't contrary to the Constitution. A very dangerous precedent was set. I also can't believe this went unnoticed by so many.

Another great concern is the fact that MOHs are going overseas and will probably never come back unless the law is changed.

It is proven that prohibition does not work and simply creates more problems. An yet, still, it is the first thing people suggest. 

K
On the edge of a tennis court far, far from home, the Sgt. shouted: Son, pass me a grenade !  The Battle of Kohima. Naga Hills, 1944.

Valhalla I am coming !........Led Zeppelin

Offline emccomas

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2016, 05:31:19 AM »
K;

I am 100% in agreement with your assessment and position on the Medal of Honor.

The recent posting of the Donald J. Gott medal group (including his original Medal of Honor) on the United Kingdom Ebay site is a valid case in point.

The Gott medals were retrieved by a "family member" from a local Oklahoma City museum (where I guess they were "on loan").

The next time we hear, the Gott medals, with the MOH, are for sale on a UK Ebay site.

The FBI investigated, including calling the "seller" in the UK (which freaked out the seller's wife).  The "seller" decided to return the medals of the owner, with a parting statement that the owner was planning a trip to Europe in the summer and the medals would probably get sold at that point.

The family was obviously not interested in donating the medals to a museum; they were after the money.  The dollar figure was around $18K. 

I don't know the owner's financial situation, but clearly they wanted / needed the funds as opposed to the "personal value" of donating the medals to a museum.

I had proposed, on another forum (that has way too many restrictions) that there should be a way for us to retrieve our military history.  I was suggesting a mechanism / process where US citizens could purchase Medals of Honor that were offered for sale overseas (and possibly ones that are offered for sale by the "familiy" of the recipient).

The idea was that a philanthropist could purchase a Medal of Honor, which would then be donated to an acceptable organization (museum, historical society, etc.).  The buyer could keep the Medal of Honor for a short period of time for photographs, local displays, etc, but then the MOH would be permanently donated to an acceptable organization within say 90 days.

Clearly there are a number of hurdles to be overcome in this concept.  I solicited ideas / suggestions for improvement.  Once the idea firms up sufficiently, I plan to propose it to my Congressional representatives for consideration.  Also, getting the CMOHS on board with this concept would go a long way to gaining approval.

It is important to note that I am NOT proposing a mechanism where US collectors can legally acquire ownership of Medals of Honor.  I think that is a valid and worthwhile effort, but it is not the focus of this idea.

Personally, I think that the issue of legal ownership of the Medal of Honor will ultimately end up being settled in the courts, and under the property laws.  But is is going to take someone that is willing to be the "test case", and has the financial means to fight this battle in court.

Offline Tom E. Gunn

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2016, 06:09:43 AM »
Strikingly different approaches / attitudes to such high valourous awards in our respective countries. Here, VCs are "often" sold at auction to the highest bidder...in some cases for as much as $500,000. Check out the websites below. Lord Ashcroft actually owns the world's largest private collection of VCs.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/11290934/Lord-Ashcroft-pays-312000-for-latest-Victoria-Cross.html

http://www.lordashcroftmedals.com/

http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/vvashcro.htm
"He who dares, wins!"

Offline m151mp

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2016, 07:50:43 AM »
i have mentioned before our chaplain cpt liteky, and how he received the Medal. at this point, he is also the only person ever to renounce the Medal, and return it. he did this in 1986. i understand why the law exists, insofar as it's one way to reduce people wearing it when it is not their award. it's a small organization, when it comes to those who rightfully wear it, and spotting a phony would be much easier. if the law was changed, i would not be upset.
retired glazier
us army vietnam veteran

Offline Rakkasan187

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2016, 07:58:06 AM »
K,

A very good write up and a valid concern/issue/complaint... However it is viewed.

I find it extremely frustrating that our own country has banned and made illegal the selling and possession of our Nations highest award, and it is seen around the world. The other competitors in the world market, China, Taiwan, etc.. are just drooling over the fact that the United States is having this issue, so they are mass producing our own Valor Medals and then they are selling them back to us at ridiculous prices.

I am a museum curator and I have been contacting many agencies for assistance but they would rather not discuss the subject and they let it go. I have specific needs at the museum, some of which are displaying Civil War era Medals of Honor, well the problem is, if any museum has any replica's out there from the pre-ban, they are not going to get rid of them, nor would I had I had any in our museum..

I can go through channels through the Army Human Resources Command and obtain a CURRENT issue Medal of Honor with all the bells and whistles But again this serves no purpose for a Civil War or WW1 exhibit.

The application process is not that hard once you get in touch with someone, but the display requirements have to be met and proven before the committee will accept the application and then a one time fee of approximately $35.00 has to be submitted. ( I am still scratching my head over this one)..

It is a sad day in our own Country that because someone years ago expressed concern over Stolen Valor, Passed a very confusing law and then everyone went into panic mode about confiscation of said medals, arrest, jail and fines, and now the entire nation suffers and we can't go to a museum and see on display all the variations of the Medal of Honor from the Civil War to Present Day, let alone have a curator like myself request copies of the medals for exhibit. Sure there are some museums that have them but not everyone, and what are the chances that most people will be able to travel to that 1 museum that has them in their collection to see them, or not. They may be stored away in an artifact room..

The Medals that were discussed in the previous thread were exactly the Medals that I would need for exhibit purposes, and now I can't even purchase these or get them for exhibit without facing possible criminal charges..

So much for educating the public about our Valor Medals and the men and women who earn them..

A picture of a medal does not have the same effect as an actual medal, (Even if it is a replica)....

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this topic, I am sure this will not be going away anytime in the near future and I suspect that a resolution on this matter will take years...Long after I am gone...

Smitty
"Pain is only weakness leaving the body"

"What you do in Life, echos in Eternity"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr (Smitty)
USA (ret) 1984-2005

EPFD 1997-2008

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Offline emccomas

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2016, 08:48:11 AM »
Have faith Smitty, I think a resolution, at least to your (and my) specific situation is closer than you think.

For every law that has been enacted, there is a mechanism for "qualified exceptions".

This one is almost (note I said almost) a no-brainer.

On a related topic, I posted an idea that I called the Medal of Honor Repatriation Act.   Since it seems to fit with this thread / discussion, I will re-post it here.

Offline emccomas

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2016, 08:54:03 AM »
Here is my original post made elsewhere about returning Medals of Honor of the United States.

**************************************************************************
 
I really want an honest and open discourse about an idea that I have.
 
How to go about keeping Medals of Honor in the United States, or returning Medals of Honor to the United States.
 
OK, rough idea.
 
"The United States Medal of Honor Repatriation Act".
 
A law enacted by Congress that goes something like this...
 
A US citizen can purchase a Medal of Honor under the following conditions:
 
1.  The buyer gets approval from some official authority (perhaps a letter of approval from the buyer's Congressional representative).
2.  The buyer also gets approval from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
3.  This documentation would be the Purchase / Import License for THAT specific Medal of Honor.
4.  Once approvals are in place, the buyer can purchase the Medal of Honor.
5.  The buyer must permanently donate the Medal of Honor to an appropriate organization withing 90 days of receipt of the Medal of Honor.
6.  The buyer will be entitled to the tax credit for the donation of the Medal of Honor at fair market value.
7.  The buyer gets to select the organization that the Medal of Honor is donated to.
8.  Family members of the original recipient (if they can be located) will have first option to purchase the Medal of Honor from the buyer at the original purchase price.
 
#1 and #2 - Some sort of legal authority is necessary.  The CMOHS is the organization legally sanctioned by Congress to deal with MOH issues.  The combination of a member of congress and the CMOHS should cover any questions of authority.
 
#3 - The purchase / import license spells out the specific MOH.  This would include the purchase of an MOH within the United States, being sold by "the family".  If the family is selling it, they will forever give up any rights to the Medal of Honor.
 
#4 - The purchase is open and above board.
 
#5 - This addresses the issue of buying a Medal of Honor for personal collections, which neither Congress or the CMOHS would agree to.  The 90 day period would allow the buyer time to photograph the Medal of Honor, and possibly display it locally until the permanent home is identified.  The 90 day period could be extended upon application, and with the approval of the CMOHS / congressional rep.  The reason for the extension, and the extension period, must be clearly defined.
 
#6 - This is pretty straight forward.  The MOH has value, and the buyer should be entitled to the tax credit of that donation.
 
#7 - The buyer should, for all of their efforts, get the right to decide where the Medal of Honor will permanently reside.  However, the organization that it is donated to must be a suitable organization (museum, local historical society, service academy, CMOHS, etc.).  A donation to the local VFW would not fly.  Also, the organization receiving the Medal of Honor must have the level of security that is typically required for things like this.
 
#8 - This allows the family to regain possession of the MOH.  The family would not have to donate it, but it must remain in the family.  If the family in the future decides to sell it, they sales price cannot exceed the original purchase price that the family paid to get it.  The family cannot profit from this.
 
OK, that is the rough idea.
 
Thoughts?
 
Ed

Offline emccomas

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2016, 08:58:18 AM »
Here is a followup post, with some questions addressed

***************************************************************************

Considering number 5:
Who decides which organizations are appropriate to keep the medals? There are many museums of all different levels. Even some of the better known museums have had items stolen.  I could see many of the lesser known museums fighting to get on the list.
 
There is no “list”.  Any organization that has the appropriate security, and is an appropriate organization for something like this would be considered.  The buyer gets to select where the MOH ultimately ends up.  Theft occurs, and we can only take reasonable precautions against it.  Even the CMOHS had Medals of Honor stolen from their museum.  If the organization meets the security criteria that the Department of Defense has already established for the loan of a display copy of the MOH that would be sufficient.
 
Regarding the 90 day period, I see MANY holes in that statement. Knowing how the general public thinks, I could easily see someone saying “I had it on display but it was stolen” when in reality, it was never stolen. You mentioned extending the 90 day window. That has an even bigger hole because people would keep trying to extend the window and hang onto the medal.
 
The 90 day period is to allow the buyer time to photograph the medal, and to display it locally if they so choose.  The rules of security still apply.  Storage in a bank safety deposit box would make sense, although a significant home safe (hard to break into or more) and a good home security system might be acceptable.  The extension of the 90 days is not automatic; it would be conditional.  Let’s say the buyer acquires an MOH, and wants to display it at the next annual CMOHS meeting, which is 5 months away.  Approval of the extension would have to have significant justification, and only one extension period would be allowed.   Also, the first 90 day period is not required.  The buyer can donate it immediately after the purchase.  Last but not least, I would NOT want to be the person that claimed that an MOH that they bought had been stolen.  The government interest in that claim would not make it worthwhile.
 
Considering number 6:
Who decides the fair market value? Is this the price paid for the medal or something different? Depending on the country where the medal was purchased could vary the price paid for the medal. I could easily see people arguing how much of a tax credit they should get based on the price paid.  It has already been discussed that the medal has no value here because it is illegal to own so who will actually determine the fair market value?
 
This one is easy.  If the purchase price is “in line” with other comparable sales of similar medals (i.e. Civil War MOH compared to other Civil War MOH sales), then the purchase price would be the value.  The IRS has already determined that items that cannot be legally sold still have value for tax purposes.  Finally, there are a number of qualified appraisers (some of them are on this forum) that could put a realistic value on the medal.  Consider the case of a donation of a rare coin to a qualified museum.  The process for the tax credit for the donation would be pretty much the same.
 
Considering number 7:
Knowing the general public, I could easily seeing someone saying that they don’t want to donate to someone on the list of preferred museums but rather X museum. This could turn into several legal battles.
 
Again, there is no list of approved museums.  Any museum, historical society, service academy, college museum, etc. would be acceptable assuming they had the security in place that the DoD has already established for display of the MOH.  Clearly, donating the MOH to a local bar because the recipient used to frequent the bar is not going to work.  A local VFW is also probably not going to work.  The criteria is pretty straight forward: 1.  Have the appropriate security, and 2.  Be an appropriate organization.
 
Considering number 8:
Who decides which family member should get the medal? They say weddings and funerals bring out the worst in people. I could easily see siblings or other direct descendants fighting and suing for the medal.

I think I did a poor job of explaining this aspect of the idea.  If the MOH is already out of the hands of the family (for whatever reason, and we don’t care), then the family would get first option to purchase the medal from the buyer, before it is donated anywhere.  If the family does purchase the MOH, then it would remain in the hands of the family from then on.
 
Now, if the MOH is currently in the hands of the family, and they want to sell it, the buyer can purchase it with the intention of donating it to a museum.  Once the family actually sells the MOH, they now give up all future rights to the medal.
 
Also, if the family buys a repatriated MOH, they can subsequently sell it, but not at a profit.  If the family buys the MOH, and then a generation later they decide to sell it, the sales price is already established.  It is what the family originally paid for it.  The family cannot financially profit from their familial relationship to the recipient.
 
Last part, a second cousin twice removed, and related only by marriage isn’t going to qualify as “family” in this situation.
 
Last but certainly not least, which federal agency is going to have the time, money, and manpower to monitor these medals? If they are already getting out of the US, how will this work any better at keeping them in the US? They are getting out of the families hands now, how will this stop them from getting out of the families hands yet again?
 
There is an organization that is already empowered by Congress to do exactly this.  The Congressional Medal of Honor Society.  The CMOHS tracks the known location of Medals of Honor.
If the family can legally sell the medal to a US citizen (who then must donate it), then the hope is that these medals will stay in the US.
 
The buyer in this case is doing it for philanthropic reasons; and there are lots of people that do things like this for just that reason.
 
I am sure there are more questions.  Ask away.

Offline emccomas

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2016, 09:10:35 AM »
One other thought, and an apology.

Apology first.

Kohima, my apologies for "taking over" your thread.  That wasn't my intention, and I now (or immediately after this post) return this thread to it's rightful owner.

The final thought..

The formation of a 501c3 organization with the purpose of returning United States Medals of Honor to the US (when they come up for sale / auction overseas).  This organization could also help to prevent Medals of Honor from heading overseas by purchasing them from the family of the recipients who are trying to sell it outside of the US.

I am not talking about an organization like the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.  The charter of the CMOHS is different than what I am envisioning for this organization.  I am thinking something more along the lines of "Purple Hearts Reunited", but the Medals of Honor are not necessarily returned to the family.

OK, I am done hogging the thread :(

Offline M1Ashooter

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2016, 09:56:40 AM »
The whole issue makes no sense to me.  A person is awarded a medal for valor.  Its his and he should be able to do what ever he wants with it period.  The leadership of our nation is bat guano crazy to pass all these silly laws.

Offline emccomas

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2016, 07:46:22 AM »
The whole issue makes no sense to me.  A person is awarded a medal for valor.  Its his and he should be able to do what ever he wants with it period.  The leadership of our nation is bat guano crazy to pass all these silly laws.

"Feel Good" legislation is easy for politicians to pass, takes very little effort, and makes the politician look like a "hero" to his / her uninformed constituents.

Stolen Valor Act is a perfect example.

A flawed piece of legislation, improperly drafted, and significantly confusing enough that even the courts have trouble figuring it out.  And the one part of the Act that actually made sense, at least conceptually, gets thrown out in court as a violation of free speech.

Bad legislation, badly drafted, and enacted without any effort at determining the real situation BEFORE trying to legislate it.

Offline Rakkasan187

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2016, 08:06:44 AM »
Folks,

Thank you all very much for posting detailed information, and your thoughts and opinions about this very controversial topic..

Smitty



"Pain is only weakness leaving the body"

"What you do in Life, echos in Eternity"

MSG Leigh E Smith Jr (Smitty)
USA (ret) 1984-2005

EPFD 1997-2008

ASMIC Member
 
187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team Association Member (RAKKASANS)

VFW Member

Offline Kohima

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2016, 10:11:40 AM »
Yes, thanks very much to all. Great comments and info.

This topic is beyond an emotionally charged-hot button topic for me, obviously. It would appear I am not alone. Loss of any freedom is a serious matter
to free men and women.

I grew up in a Service family and learned from an early age that " Freedom Ain't Free ". Many have given life and limb for us. We must always remain vigilant
and preserve all freedoms.

If we want to stop MOHs from going overseas, I'm afraid the only solution is to scrap the law and start over.

The MOH should be struck and named by the US Mint only and, like the Victoria Cross, one and only one to be issued to the recipient or family. If the MOH is lost or stolen,
only one replacement will ever be issued and it will be clearly marked "replacement". 

Obsolete and current MOHs for museums and other legit. institutions could be made by one Govt. contractor only and be deeply and clearly stamped "For Display"
They should be distributed by the Government only. Perhaps they could be very very slightly larger than original issue and obviously appear new.
The mfg. in the US and importation of repro. MOHs should not be allowed.

Again, thanks and please keep the comments coming.

K
On the edge of a tennis court far, far from home, the Sgt. shouted: Son, pass me a grenade !  The Battle of Kohima. Naga Hills, 1944.

Valhalla I am coming !........Led Zeppelin

Offline emccomas

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2016, 06:37:23 AM »
K;

I like your idea of a central authorized organization production the replica Medals of Honor, but I just don't see that happening.

I am pretty well convinced that no official US government replicas of any medal will ever be made, mush less the MOH.

Good idea, but not realistic in my opinion.

The best we are going to get is replicas that are made outside the US.  And as we know, the quality varies.

For the most part, the German MOH replicas are pretty much the best around at this time, and they still need some work.

We have to deal with the real world as we have it today.

I 100% agree that any / all of the replica MOHs should be marked "REPLICA - FOR DISPLAY ONLY", or something close to that as part of the arrangements to import the replicas to the US for the museum display.

Offline Kohima

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Re: Thoughts On The Medal Of Honor
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2016, 07:29:00 AM »
Considering the US Government does not allow replica MOHs to be made in the US, I think it is highly unlike they would ever allow foreign made replicas
to be imported for any reason, marked replica or not.

The press would have a field day.



k
On the edge of a tennis court far, far from home, the Sgt. shouted: Son, pass me a grenade !  The Battle of Kohima. Naga Hills, 1944.

Valhalla I am coming !........Led Zeppelin

 

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