Canada honours winners of top U.S. medal

Canadian officials in Washington laid wreaths on the graves of home-grown heros who won the top U.S. medal for bravery.

Canadian officials in Washington marked Canada Day by laying wreaths on the graves of home-grown heroes who won the top U.S. medal for bravery.

Ambassador Frank McKenna and military attaché Rear Admiral Ian Mack honoured nine Canadians buried in Arlington National Cemetery, the main U.S. military cemetery.

The nine were among the 61 Canadians who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, more than half of them during the U.S. Civil War (1861-65) and only four since 1900.

"It's our national day. It's a day Canadians celebrate, but it's a day as well where we should honour our warriors who have been recognized by other countries by being awarded their highest medal for bravery," McKenna said.

The nine include Martin Thomas McMahon of La Prairie, Que., the first Canadian to win the Medal of Honor. He was serving with the U.S. Volunteers at White Oak Swamp, Va., in 1862. He died in 1906.

The most recent award among the nine was given to Charles MacGillivary from Charlottetown, who was cited for fighting Germans in France in 1945. He died in 2000.

"Bravery knows no nationalities and in this case, these were Canadians who chose to fight in an adopted country and who fought with great distinction," McKenna said.

Among other Canadian winners, Robert Sweeney, a sailor from Montreal, won it twice (1881 and 1883) and two brothers from Noel Shore, N.S., Harry and Willard Miller, won it serving on a U.S. ship in Cuba on May 11, 1898.

The most recent award to a Canadian went to Peter Lemon of Toronto for action in Vietnam in 1970.

Five Americans have won the Commonwealth's highest medal for bravery, the Victoria Cross. Four of them were serving with Canadian units, all during the First World War, the Department of National Defence said.