Received The Victoria Cross
( Originally Published 1902 )
THE man that can write V. C. after his name is regarded with especial affection and honor in England. It means that he has received the decoration of the Victoria Cross, which is bestowed not through influence, nor family, nor royal favor, but from merit. The decoration is a Maltese cross of bronze, with a crown surmounted by a lion in the centre and a scroll at the bottom with the motto, " For Valor." It is bestowed upon any soldier or sailor of the British government who shall display signal bravery in the presence of the enemy. There is but one black man in the world who wears this cross—Mr. Gordon, a negro of the West Indies. In one of the campaigns of West Africa, as the British troops were going through a thicket, Gordon saw the end of a gun sticking out of a bush, aimed directly at his commanding officer. In an instant he threw his arms about the officer and swung him around and his own body into range, receiving in his own lungs the bullet that was intended for his commander. It was thought that the shot had certainly killed him, but after a long struggle he recovered. In the procession at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, few received more notice or favor than Gordon, who wore the coveted Victoria Cross, which had been awarded to him for his signal act of heroism.
The cross from earliest times was regarded as the badge of the deepest crime and severest penalty till the Innocent One hung upon it, and He transformed it into the symbol of everything that is beautiful and glorious. It crowns the spires that pierce the sky, it adorns the walls of palaces and parliaments, and it hangs from the breasts of kings and conquerors and heroes. The Victoria Cross, which was originated at the time of the Crimean war, was appropriately fashioned and fittingly named, suggesting the cross on which the Saviour died that we might live, and also the cross on which every follower of his should hang in complete consecration to God and in self-sacrificing devotion to the interests of others.