Belleville Historical Society pays tribute to youngest Medal of Honor recipient

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BELLEVILLE, NJ — America’s youngest Medal of Honor recipient was honored at a July 27 birthday tribute hosted by the Belleville Historical Society. 

President Abraham Lincoln authorized the award for Willie Johnston for his actions during the Seven Days Battles in Virginia in 1862; Willie was 11 years old, having been born in Morristown, N.Y., in July of 1850. 

The historical society wanted to highlight the life of a youth who could serve as a role model for today’s young people. The event was held at the Belleville American Legion Post 105 and included a recitation of the “Union Soldier’s Prayer” and the singing of “Hail Columbia,” which was the national anthem during the war. Historical society members and veterans then enjoyed a red, white and blue birthday cake and other treats. A copy of Willie’s official portrait and a replica civil war drum adorned the main table.

Photos Courtesy of Michael Perrone