On January 16, 2001, US President Bill Clinton awarded former President Theodore Roosevelt a posthumous Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish–American War. The ceremony, which took place at the White House, was attended by Roosevelt’s family members and members of the military.
The Spanish–American War was fought between the United States and Spain in 1898 and resulted in the defeat of Spain and the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines by the United States. Theodore Roosevelt, who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy at the time, resigned his position to form the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, also known as the “Rough Riders.” The unit, consisting of cowboys, miners, and Ivy League athletes, fought in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba, a major victory for the United States.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government and is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. It is a rare honor, and only a small number of individuals have received the award posthumously.
The ceremony was also unique in that the award was given to a President who had already served in the office, which is very rare. Awarding of the Medal of Honor to Theodore Roosevelt was a significant event in American history, recognizing his exceptional leadership and bravery during the Spanish-American War.