The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor presented for valor. It is also the only military award that is congressionally approved for presentation by the President.
Criteria for receiving this award usually involves going above and beyond the call of duty while "engaged in action against an enemy of the United States.
Service Crosses are the second-highest military medal awarded for valor. Like the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) has evolved into a medal presented for valor to qualifying service members from any branch of the U.S. military. The Distinguished Service Cross was first awarded by the Army in 1918.
The Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest military medal awarded specifically for bravery and exceptional service under fire. It was created in 1918. It was known first as the Citation Star. Around 1932 the Citation Star was redesignated and Silver Star became the medal we know today.
Distinguished Flying Cross
Believe it or not, the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) was created in the early 1900s by and first awarded to the U.S. Army. This military medal is awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement related to flight and its first recipient was none other than Charles Lindbergh.
The Bronze Star
The Bronze Star has the distinction of being an award for heroism or achievement, offered to both U.S. troops and qualifying members of foreign military organizations. The Bronze Star was created in 1944 and can be presented for both valor and/or meritorious service.
The Purple Heart
This military medal awarded for wounds or loss of life in combat "as the result of an act of any opposing force" has its origins in the American Revolution. Originally created and presented as the Badge of Military Merit initiated by George Washington in 1782, the Purple Heart was created in 1932 based on Washington's design and intent.