In 1865, Mary Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor for “valuable service” during the Civil War. The first female surgeon in the country was now the first woman to receive its highest military award.
In 1917, after a rules change on who could receive the award, her medal was taken away. But Walker, then 84 years old, refused to give it back. She had worn it every day for half a century and would keep wearing it until her death two years later. It was the last stubborn act in a life built on defying people’s expectations.
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