The Washington Post

Obama to posthumously award Medal of Honor to Civil War soldier

This post has been updated. 

On July 3, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg raged into its third day. That afternoon, Confederate soldiers made what is now known as Pickett’s Charge at the Union Army, directly at the battery commanded by First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing.

Cushing, who was wounded numerous times, died on the battlefield. For years, his family and others have pushed to have his bravery formally acknowledged.

More than 151 years later, the White House announced Tuesday that President Obama will posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Cushing, who was 22 when he died.

Cushing graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1861. During the Battle of Gettysburg, his battalion was bombarded and left with only two working guns. Cushing himself was wounded in the stomach and shoulder, but refused to leave the front lines. With Confederate soldiers just 100 yards away, he continued to give orders until he was shot again and killed.

Cushing’s family and residents of his birthplace of Delafield, Wisc. have spent decades lobbying for him to receive the nation’s highest military honor. Last year, Congress passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) to suspend the time limit by which a person can posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor.

"It's never too late to do the right thing, even after more than 150 years," Kind said in a statement. "A brave Wisconsinite and true American hero, Alonzo Cushing is truly deserving of the Medal of Honor and I'm honored to have led that effort."

At the Medal of Honor ceremony, which will take place at the White House Sept. 15,  Obama will also present the award to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and to Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat, both of whom served in Vietnam.

Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Post.



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