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August 2014

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Delafield battling for Cushing medal

White House letter latest effort in the campaign

City of Delafield — The Common Council will send a letter to the White House as part of the city's effort to accelerate its campaign to become the home of the Medal of Honor that will likely be awarded to Civil War hero Lt. Alonzo Cushing. Cushing is a Delafield native who was one of four brothers for whom Cushing Elementary School and Cushing Park were named.

Cushing, a West Point graduate with a brilliant career as a 21-year-old Union officer, is slated to receive the country's highest military award posthumously for his gallant, but fatal, stand against Maj. Gen. George Pickett's charge on Union forces at Cemetery Hill during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

The letter urges President Barack Obama to approve the secretary of the Army's recommendation that Cushing receive the medal.

"Even though he was horribly wounded several times during the largest bombardment in the history of this continent, he refused to leave his command. When his commanding officer told him to move to the rear and get medical attention, he requested permission to move his cannons forward, instead," according to the letter.

Cushing was fatally wounded as he fired his remaining canister charges at the attacking rebel forces, the letter added.

"We speak for our community in letting you know how much it would mean to the Cushing descendants, our residents and to Americans who still remember the gallantry of those who fought and died in the name of freedom, for you to sign the approval for the Medal of Honor for Lt. Cushing," the letter states.

The letter was drafted by David Krueger, who was appointed by Mayor Ed McAleer last year to serve as the city's representative in efforts to have the medal donated to the city.

Krueger said there are conflicting reports over whether the president's approval is the final step in the process of awarding the medal to Cushing or whether final action is also required by the U.S. Senate.

Cushing apparently has no surviving direct descendents, according to Krueger and city historian Margaret Zerwekh.

The 91-year-old Zerwekh launched the campaign 30 years ago to have the Medal of Honor awarded to Cushing for his gallantry in the battle that was a turning point in the Civil War.

"She started it by writing Sen. William Proxmire,(who served in the Senate from 1857 to 1989) and then she wrote Sen. Russ Feingold and Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush," Krueger explained in a recent interview.

Feingold announced on March 9, 2010, that the secretary of the Army had approved the medal for Cushing.

Since then, Zerwekh and city officials have been urging military and congressional officials to hold the awards ceremony and display the medal in the City of Delafield, where Cushing was born.

However, in a recent interview Krueger said that representatives of three other locations might also be vying to host the ceremonies and display the medal.

He said there may be distant relatives of Cushing who are campaigning online to have the medal awarded in Fredonia, N.Y., where he spent much of his life. Another potential site is the Military Academy at West Point, where other posthumously awarded Medals of Honor are displayed.

Krueger added there is also an online campaign by some Civil War buffs to have the medal awarded to the Gettysburg National Military Park where a $100 million visitors center was built four years ago.

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