Health, Education, Science, Aviation, and Athletics

Mary Walker

20-cent Mary Walker stamp
The Mary Walker stamp was issued on June 10, 1982 to honor her receipt of the Medal of Honor.

Mary Walker (1832-1919) was the second American woman to earn her medical degree. She volunteered to work as a field surgeon for the Union Army, employed first as a civilian before being accepted as an employee. She not only treated the wounded, but also crossed the front lines to treat injured civilians, once getting captured and imprisoned by the Confederates. She became the first woman officer ever exchanged as a prisoner of war for a man of the same rank. In 1865, Dr. Walker became the first (and so far only) woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service. After the war, she continued to advocate women’s rights and dress reform, refusing to wear restrictive women’s clothing. In 1917, her Medal of Honor was one of 900 that the U.S. Army rescinded, but Mary refused to return it. In 1977 her medal was reinstated.