National Medal of Honor Museum Calls for Stop of Auction of Medal of Honor Awarded to Private Thomas Kelly

Under U.S. law, it is illegal to sell the Medal of Honor or any other military decoration awarded by Congress

ARLINGTON, TX – (May 27, 2020) – The National Medal of Honor Museum today called on U.S. government officials to work to prevent the sale of a historic Medal of Honor by an auction house in Germany. The Medal of Honor is the highest award given for valor in the U.S. military.

The Hermann Historica GmbH auction house, located in Munich, Germany, is scheduled to sell the medal on Thursday, May 28. It was awarded to Private Thomas Kelly for his heroic actions in Santiago, Cuba, in 1898 where he fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War. Selling any military decoration awarded by the U.S. Congress, including the Medal of Honor, is in violation of the law.

“This Medal of Honor is a priceless American treasure that belongs here in our country,” said museum President and CEO Joe Daniels. “We’re asking our elected leaders and officials in the administration to do what they can to prevent people from illegally profiting off of Private Kelly’s heroism and bring the medal home where it belongs.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has already joined the cause, requesting action by the State Department in a letter dated yesterday.

“The sale harms the dignity and honor of all recipients of the Medal of Honor. The Congress and the United States have long sought to prevent such affronts, and indeed 18 U.S. Code § 704 authorizes fines and imprisonment when those sales occur within our jurisdiction,” Cruz wrote in his letter. 

Daniels sent letters asking President Donald TrumpSecretary of State Mike PompeoSecretary of Defense Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr to take action. He encouraged the German Ambassador to the U.S. to intercede and asked the German auction house to forgo the sale of the medal. He also thanked Senator Cruz for his efforts.

In addition to asking elected leaders and government officials to work to bring the medal home, the museum started a public petition that allows Americans from across the country to voice their support for stopping this illegal sale. People can sign by visiting

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