Vintage Durango: Mary Edwards Walker and the medal of honor

by Patty Templeton

Mary Edwards Walker was a feminist, abolitionist, alleged spy for the Union, doctor, and the only woman to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor. She received it in 1865 for serving as a civilian surgeon in the American Civil War. In her last year of service, she was captured by Confederate troops when she crossed enemy lines to treat civilians. After being freed, Walker became a writer, lecturer, and suffragette, and continued her surgical practice.

Because the U.S. government has always been filled with ungrateful goons, they took away Walker’s Medal of Honor in 1917. (More than 900 other medals were revoked, including that of scout/showman Buffalo Bill Cody.) It took 60 damn years before Dr. Mary Edwards Walker’s medal was restored in 1977.

In scandalous news, Mary Edwards Walker wore trousers and people commonly questioned why she would want to “look like a man.” To which Walker would reply, “I don’t wear men’s clothes. I wear my own clothes.”

Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer

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