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Cushing to be honored with Medal of Honor

March 3, 2010

City of Delafield — Alonzo Cushing - one of four brothers for which an elementary school and city park are named for - will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Battle of Gettysburg in which he was killed on July 3, 1863, according to U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin).

Secretary of Army John McHugh notified Feingold's office last week that Cushing would receive the country's highest military honor, according to Matt Nikolay, veterans' affairs case worker and regional coordinator in Feingold's La Crosse office.

Nikolay credited local historian Margaret Zerwekh with initiating a campaign seven years ago to have Cushing awarded the medal posthumously. Nikolay said several other constituents had also urged Feingold to recommend Cushing for the award.

"It was a big surprise. It has been a slow process," Nikolay observed.

Zerwekh, who prepared the application submitted by Feingold, said the 22-year-old lieutenant deserved the medal because of his efforts to stall confederate forces during Pickett's Charge, despite being seriously wounded three times during the battle.

She said she decided to seek the award on Cushing's behalf in 2003 after noticing that an organization honoring Civil War veterans was successfully gaining posthumous awards for other civil war heroes.

The Congressional Medal of Honor was established in 1862, a year before Cushing's death. Of the 3,448 awards, 618 have been awarded posthumously.

Nikolay said he is not sure when and to whom the medal will be presented. The Army is seeking the nearest next of kin to Cushing. Zerwekh said there are no living family members.

"I would like to see some kind of ceremony in Delafield," she said.

Cushing was born in Delafield Township on Jan. 19, 1841. He was raised in Fredonia, N.Y., and was a graduate of West Point.

His brother William was a Navy hero in the Civil War. Another brother, Howard, survived the Civil War and became a leading frontiersman. A fourth brother, Milton, served as a Navy paymaster.

Cushing Park and Cushing Elementary School are named after the brothers.

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