The Legion of Valor was
organized on April 23, 1890, in Washington, DC, by a group of Civil
War and Indian War Campaign veterans who were recipients of the
Medal of Honor. At its inception, the name was "The Medal of
Honor Legion". The membership was augmented following the Spanish
Campaign of 1898 and following the Philippines Insurrection. The
membership was never large and with the passage of years and subsequent
demise of members, on November 25, 1918, the recipients of the Army
Distinguished Service Cross, the second ranking Army decoration
for extraordinary heroism, were admitted to membership. In 1933,
members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, who were recipients
of the Navy Cross, the second ranking Navy decoration for extraordinary
heroism, were invited to join the membership and the name of this
prestigious organization was changed to "The Army and Navy
Legion of Valor". On August 4, 1955, Public Law 224, 84th Congress,
incorporated The Army and Navy Legion of Valor of the United States.
With the creation of the Air Force Medal of Honor and the Air Force
Cross, the membership invited the recipients of these medals to
become members and on June 21, 1961, with P.L. 87-56, the name of
this elite organization became the "Legion of Valor of the
United States of America, Inc".
A. Cherish the
memories of the valiant deeds for which the Medal of Honor, Distinguished
Service Cross, Navy Cross, and the Air Force Cross are the insignia. B. Promote true fellowship. C. Advance
the best interest of members of the Armed Forces of the United
States and to enhance their prestige and understanding by example
and personal activity. D. Extend all possible relief to needy members, their widows,
and children. E. Stimulate patriotism in the minds of our youth and engender
a national pride and interest in the Armed Forces of the United
Each of the three services
has its own distinctive design for the Medal of Honor and the Three
Crosses. The Medal of Honor is awarded for conspicuous gallantry
and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of
duty. The Three Crosses are awarded for extraordinary heroism. Many
of these two highest decorations are awarded posthumously.
The Legion of Valor has
maintained a consistent interest in recognizing outstanding performance.
In 1957, at the 67th National Reunion, the Legion of Valor created
a Silver Cross for Heroism and a Bronze Cross for Achievement. In
establishing these awards, members of the Legion of Valor concluded
that the Silver Cross should be reserved to recognize actions involving
the saving or preservation of life and that the decoration could
be conferred on any person whose conduct met such standards. On
the other hand, the Bronze Cross for Achievement should be available
to those cadets of the Reserve Officers Training Corps who have
demonstrated excellence in military, scholastic, and civic affairs.
The very nature of the
Silver Cross for Heroism suggests that it would be given sparingly
and only after thorough review by the Legion of Valor Awards Committee.
Hence, it is seldom that more than two Crosses are presented in
a year's time although there is no limitation on the number that
may be granted. While there is no such thing as a typical Silver
Cross award, over recent years it has been given to a Florida newspaper
carrier, a non-swimmer, who dived into a canal to rescue the driver
of a car which had sunk in the water. Another went to a Texas National
Guard chaplain, who, though painfully injured, saved a number of
elderly persons from drowning when a sudden violent thunderstorm
struck over a lake where people were boating and bathing. A Silver
Cross for Heroism was posthumously presented to a native of Mexico
who was studying for his U.S. citizenship examinations. When his
tutor was attacked by six assailants, he went to her rescue, beat
off the attackers, but suffered gunshot wounds which cost him his
life. Two more Crosses were given to recognize the valor of two
airline pilots who successfully thwarted a hijacker. Although one
pilot was killed and the other wounded, the plane was landed successfully
after the hijacker was wounded and subdued by the pilots. The Silver
Cross for Heroism was awarded to an airline purser, the first ever
to a woman, who was credited with saving a sailor's life during
a hijacking in Beirut. Most recently, it was presented to a Director
of a Veteran's Administration Medical Center who climbed a construction
crane to a distance of about 105 feet above the ground to render
aid to an apparently suicidal veteran.
At the 98th Annual Reunion,
the constitution was amended to allow Silver Cross recipients to
become associate members.
The Bronze Cross for
Achievement program began of a limited scale in 1951 when the District
of Columbia Chapter established an incentive for excellence in the
Washington High School Corps of Cadets. The national body of the
Legion of Valor ordained that the program be converted to a nationally-sponsored
program in 1957. Thus it was extended to the Fifth U.S. Army in
1959, to the Third U.S. Army in 1960, and in 1961 to all Army ROTC
and NDCC cadets. In 1962, college-level cadets of the U.S. Air Force
ROTC became eligible to receive the Bronze Cross, and in 1975, college-level
midshipmen of the U.S. Navy were given the privilege of competing
for the Cross. High school cadets of the Junior U.S. Marine Corps
ROTC also participate in the program.
Criteria for award of
the Bronze Cross for Achievement have been developed by the Legion
of Valor in conjunction with officials of the Army's ROTC program.
In general, the standards of achievement are similar to the qualities
required for award of the Army's Superior Cadet Decoration and have
been adopted by the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Thus, the
same standards prevail for all services.
Administration of the
program is conducted by the services under the aegis of the Legion
of Valor. Recommendations are sent to the Awards Chairman of the
Legion of Valor who conducts reviews to assure adherence to all
criteria, including the rule that the Cross is to be presented for
performance through the next-to-last year of school. Because of
the rigid standards and the thorough screening processes employed,
less than 50 cadets and midshipmen receive Crosses each year. All
Crosses and certificates are provided by the Legion of Valor at
no cost to the participating services or to the institutions attended
by the successful nominees. All nominations originate with the military
officials having jurisdiction over the individual being nominated.
Presentations are customarily made by an officer or member of the
Legion of Valor in conjunction with officials of the institution.
Each year an annual convention is planned for the Legion of Valor. None have
been missed since the founding in 1890. To find out more about the
Legion of Valor Annual Convention.
Legion of Valor
4704 Calle Reina
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
Veterans Memorial Museum Home of the Legion of Valor
2425 Fresno Street at "O" Street
Fresno, CA 93721
was established August 1, 1991, and incorporated into the Constitution
and By-Laws August 21, 1993. Located in Fresno, California and supported
heavily by the community, the museum contains military memorabilia,
artifacts, photographs, and official citations. To find out more
about the Museum .