Archive

ShareThis Page
151 years on, Medal of Honor granted for valor at Battle of Gettysburg | TribLIVE.com
News

151 years on, Medal of Honor granted for valor at Battle of Gettysburg

The Los Angeles Times
| Thursday, November 6, 2014 7:57 p.m.

WASHINGTON — 1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing and his artillerymen stood amid the smoke and the noises of war, trying to keep their cannons firing, on the most consequential day of the Civil War.

It was the third and final day of a bloody fight in the fields and forests of Pennsylvania, what historians would later call the Battle of Gettysburg. Cushing, respected by his men for his cool under fire, commanded the last cannon left firing in his battery. Though struck by enemy fire that day, he continued to fight. Finally, with Confederates only 100 yards away, he was killed by a shot in the mouth. He was 22.

More than a century later, in a ceremony at the White House on Thursday, President Obama bestowed the nation’s highest military distinction, the Medal of Honor, on the lieutenant as distant family members looked on.

Obama said: “151 years ago, as our country struggled for its survival. … Today, the nation that lived pauses to pay tribute to one of those who died there.”

During a crowded White House ceremony, Obama handed the medal to Helen Loring Ensign, 85, Cushing’s cousin twice removed and closest living relative. He was joined by Wisconsin Congressmen Ron Kind, a Democrat, and Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, who helped bring about Cushing’s award.

Obama credited Cushing’s actions for helping to turn the tide of the decisive battle in the Civil War. “It was thousands of unknown young soldiers, committing unsung acts of heroism, who saved our union, and freed a people, and reaffirmed our nation as one nation,” Obama said.

Cushing’s award is unusual. Most Medal of Honor recipients must receive their distinction soon after their service. Obama credited historian Margaret Zerwekh, who attended the ceremony, for her research and advocacy.

Zerwekh first became interested in Cushing when she discovered she lived on a property in Wisconsin owned by Cushing’s father. She spent 25 years petitioning on Cushing’s behalf.

Cushing rests in the cemetery at West Point, where his tombstone reads “Faithful Unto Death.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.