National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation Applauds Introduction of Federal Legislation to Stop Illegal Foreign Sale and Trade of Medal of Honor, Other U.S. Military Medals

Senator Ted Cruz champions bill following German auction of Medal of Honor earlier this year

ARLINGTON, TX – (December 10, 2020) – The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation (NMOHMF) today applauded the introduction of federal legislation by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would crack down on the illegal foreign sale and trade of military medals such as the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for valor in combat. The Museum worked closely with Senator Cruz and his staff to develop the legislation.

The Limiting and Enabling Gathering Awards Commemorating Yesteryear (LEGACY) Act would allow for the repatriation of any American military medal being sold or traded by foreign entities. The bill also would establish grounds for sanctions on individuals and companies found in violation of these activities. Under existing U.S. law, it is illegal to sell the Medal of Honor or any other military award given by Congress.

The introduction of this legislation follows the German auction earlier this year of the Medal of Honor of Private Thomas Kelly, who earned the award for his heroic actions in Santiago, Cuba, in 1898, where he fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War. When alerted to the pending sale, the National Medal of Honor Museum condemned the auction and sent letters to multiple Trump Administration officials, including the President himself, urging action. The Museum also encouraged the German Ambassador to the U.S. to intercede and asked the German auction house to forgo the sale of the medal.

In addition to asking government officials to work to bring the medal home, the Museum also started a public petition that allowed Americans from across the country to voice their support for stopping the illegal sale.

“The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation has been at the forefront of defending the integrity of the Medal of Honor and the legacies of those who received it,” said NMOHMF CEO James T. Connors. “When we learned of a Medal of Honor being sold in Germany earlier this year, we moved quickly to stop these American treasures from being auctioned off like common household goods. Senator Cruz immediately stepped forward as a champion. We are proud to stand with him in this noble cause.”

Upon hearing of the auction, Senator Cruz immediately joined the effort, requesting action by the State Department in his own letter, and has since continued to champion efforts to defend the Medal of Honor and bring home these military honors – culminating in today’s introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate. 

“Foreign sales of Medals of Honor harm the dignity and honor of all recipients. I’m proud to introduce this important legislation to ensure these medals return to U.S. territory. By creating a process for these medals to be donated to the military, museums, or educational institutions, future generations of Americans will be able to learn more about Medal of Honor recipients’ heroic service and countless contributions to our country,” Senator Cruz said.

Medal of Honor recipient and NMOHMF Board Member David Bellavia expressed appreciation for Cruz’s leadership and underscored that the Medal of Honor is not about just about one person, but about all those who served and the American values they represent. 

“The Medal of Honor is part of the American fabric and the warrior ethos. It isn’t just an object and those of us who wear it do so on behalf of all those who have fought for and defended our country,” Bellavia said. “We are custodians of these priceless American treasures, and I’m grateful to Senator Ted Cruz for protecting American valor by keeping them from the black market.”