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Tag: Pennsylvania

Medal of Honor is now on display at the National Archives

The Medal of Honor for Sgt. James Hill in its presentation box.


The Medal of Honor is the highest honor in recognition of “gallantry in action.” Yet when President Abraham Lincoln signed “An act to further promote the efficiency of the Navy” into law on December 21, 1861, the creation of this honor is just a paragraph in section seven.

Only 200 “medals of honor” were authorized by Lincoln to be awarded to enlisted members of the Navy “during the present war.”  Over the years, the medal has changed, going through revisions to the design, the rules under which it was awarded, and the inclusion of officers and members of the other branches of service. 

It has been awarded fewer than 3,500 times.

One medal is currently on display through January 17, 2012, in the Rotunda of the National Archives.

This Medal of Honor was awarded to Sgt. James Hill, 14th New York Artillery, for extraordinary heroism on July 30, 1864, at Petersburg, Virginia, for capturing a flag and shooting a Confederate officer who was rallying his men.  Hill died in captivity at Andersonville, Georgia, before the medal could be presented.  The medal was designed by William Wilson & Sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1862.

The display also includes a letter of recommendation to another soldier. After the Civil War ended, the historian of the 37th Massachusetts Regimental Association, … [ Read all ]

It’s not the Gulf, it’s the Schuylkill

Oil is washing up onto the shores of Louisiana and Florida. But these are not the only American shores to suffer environmental catastrophe from oil spills.

In 1972, Hurricane Agnes took an unusual turn over the East Coast. After passing over Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, the storm swung back over the Atlantic and regained strength. It moved back over New York state on June 22, and on June 23 the hurricane was hovering over Pennsylvania.

Heavy rain meant flooding, and the surge of water hit cities in upstate New York and Pennsylvania hard. For the Keystone State, there was $2.3 billion in damage caused by flooding and 50 deaths. Shamokin, PA, had 18 inches of rain.

The rising water damaged more than cities.

The flooding released 6 to 8 million gallons of oil into the Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River, coating trees and riverbed grasses. In this photo from the Environmental Protection Agency (Record Group 412) Documerica Project, you can see the reddish brown sludge on the banks.

Has the river recovered? Thirty years later, the river is an important resource, with 10% of Pennsylvania’s population relying on the Schuylkill River for all or part of their water supply.

But even if the water is drinkable, the river remains in danger.

Oil spills are not a thing of the past. This month, a fire … [ Read all ]