September 30, 1864 — Black soldiers are given US Medal of Honor today, which was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces.
Recipients must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Because of the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.
Of the 3,470 Medals of Honor awarded as of June 2015, 90 have been awarded to 89 different African American recipients. Robert Augustus Sweeney is one of 19 men, and the only African American, to have been awarded two Medals of Honor.
Words of Wisdom for September 30, 2016
“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (First Award) to Ordinary Seaman Robert Augustus Sweeney, United States Navy, for gallant and heroic conduct while serving on board the U.S.S. Kearsarge, at Hampton Roads, Virginia 26 October 1881. Ordinary Seaman Sweeney jumped overboard and assisted in saving from drowning a shipmate who had fallen overboard into a strongly running tide.”
— War Department, General Orders No. 326 (October 18, 1884)