Posthumous recognition

Posthumous recognition

A posthumous recognition is a ceremonial award given after the recipient has died, usually in honor of an action associated with their death.

Awards are normally given while the recipient is alive, but when awarded after death, the recipient is referred to as having been "awarded posthumously." Some awards are given "only" after the death of the recipient, and thus are by definition a posthumous recognition. Conversely, some awards, such as the Nobel Prize, and most knighthoods, are forbidden from being awarded posthumously.


*As part of the criteria for bestowing the Medal of Honor or the Victoria Cross, the recipient must have risked "great self-sacrifice" in an act of extraordinary heroism. As a consequence, many are awarded posthumously because the recipient was either killed outright or mortally wounded during the action in which the medal was awarded.
*The tongue-in-cheek Darwin Award is often given as a posthumous recognition, since one of the criteria for receiving it is that the recipient must have committed an act that unintentionally led to their own removal from the human gene pool, "i.e.," either their own death or self-sterilization.
*The victims of the Virginia Tech massacre have been awarded posthumous degrees.
*Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon were the first soldiers to be awarded Medals of Honor posthumously since the Vietnam War. They received these for defending a crashed helicopter from hundreds of advancing Somalis in the Battle of Mogadishu.
*Jeanne Eagels was the only actress to be nominated for an Academy Award (1929) after her death. James Dean was the first actor (1955, and again in 1956). Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Sir Ralph Richardson and Massimo Troisi were similarly recognized, though Finch is the only actor or actress to actually win the award posthumously. Heath Ledger is a favorite to win a posthumous Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight (2008), having already been confirmed for receiving the Chauvel Award [cite news
title = Ledger to get posthumous award
publisher = The Australian
date = 2008-07-18
url =,25197,24039899-12377,00.html
] posthumously. For full details of such nominations and awards, see List of posthumous Academy Award winners and nominees.
*Pelle Lindbergh (G, Philadelphia Flyers) in 1986 and Sean Taylor (FS, Washington Redskins) in 2008 were each posthumously elected to their respective All-Star Games as starters for the season during which they died. (Lindbergh to the NHL All-Star Game and Taylor to the NFL's Pro Bowl.)


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