150 years of heroes Medal of Honor first awarded in midst of Civil War Medal of Honor timeline

Dustin Hutchinson, an Army veteran, his sister Samantha and nephew Don, 4, from Cleveland, look over the nearly 3,500 names on a wall outside the nation’s Congressional Medal of Honor Museum on the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point on Friday.

After all, we started the war that produced its first recipients.

“We always tie the award to Charleston since the Civil War started in Charleston and the award was first presented in the Civil War,” said Maj. Gen. James Everett Livingston, the area’s only recipient of the nation’s highest military honor.

Today the Medal of Honor is 150 years old.

On March 25, 1863, the first medals were presented to Jacob Parrott and five other men for their actions in “The Great Locomotive Chase” — a military raid in North Georgia in April 1862.

Since then, nearly 3,500 people have received the medal, 80 of whom are still alive.

Livingston, 73, is a retired Marine Corps general who received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions in 1968 during the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon presented him with the award on May 14, 1970.

Livingston retired from active duty after 33 years in September 1995 and he and his wife, Sara, moved to Mount Pleasant in 2005.

Last week, he attended the New York Stock Exchange Closing Bell and Circle of Honor Gala, a fundraiser for the Medal of Honor Foundation of which he’s a member. He is not attending the National Medal of Honor Day ceremony today at Arlington National Cemetery. There, other Medal of Honor recipients will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in honor of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

Livingston, who served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, is now involved in the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, a more than $100 million project at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant.

“We are currently in the final negotiations with the Patriots Point Authority trying to tie down the land where the museum will be located,” he said. “Also, a piece of land has been identified where we will develop the hotels, conference centers, and restaurants to make it a total destination.”

The museum will include a uniform collection, a large format theater with multiple video screens, a Great Hall honoring Medal of Honor recipients and an interactive gallery.

Plans for the museum have been in the works for a couple of years, with the idea that it would replace a smaller one aboard the Yorktown.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.