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Obama awards posthumous Medal of Honor to Civil War veteran

Obama awards posthumous Medal of Honor to Civil War veteran

President Obama has awarded Alonzo H. Cushing, first lieutenant in the Union Army, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In a ceremony at the White House on Thursday, Obama honored Cushing, who died in the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. He was 22 when he was shot and killed by Confederate soldiers during Pickett's Charge.

Recommendations for the Medal of Honor must be made within a few years of a heroic act, but Congress made an exception for Cushing, thanks to the lobbying of one 94-year-old woman. Margaret Zerwekh spent almost 50 years trying to get Cushing the Medal of Honor — she told The Washington Post that Cushing "helped make this country what it is" and that he "saved the Union."

Zerwekh has a special connection to Cushing, because her home in Delafield, Wisconsin, once belonged to the Cushings. She wrote letters to every member of Congress from Wisconsin — and multiple presidents — about awarding Cushing the honor. Finally, Congress passed legislation last year to suspend the time limit in Cushing's case.

"No matter how long it takes, it's never too late to do the right thing," Obama said at the ceremony. "This story is part of our larger American story and one that continues to this very day." --Meghan DeMaria

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