The United Kingdom’s Queen Victoria created the Victoria Cross in 1856 to recognize individual acts of gallantry by soldiers and sailors of the British Empire.
The new medal came on the heels of, and was inspired by, the heroics of the Crimean War fought by Britain, France, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire against Russia between 1854 and 1856.
To this day each Victoria Cross is forged from the melted-down metal of Russian cannon captured during the Crimean War.
Unlike some other British medals, the Victoria Cross can be awarded to any member of the military regardless of rank.
To date, at the time of this writing, 1,355 people have received the medal.