As the dust settles on the survivors of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, there's a quiet moment when Maz Kanata gives Chewbacca something: a medal that looks awfully familiar. Although it's never said out loud whose medal it is, the implications are pretty clear.
Maz giving the medal to Chewie isn't the first time we see it in the movie. Earlier, as Leia ends her leadership of the Resistance and prepares to reach out to her son one last time, the medal is in her possession. It's a Medal of Bravery — if you think you've seen it before, it's because Leia presented Luke and Han with Medals of Bravery at the end of A New Hope. Theoretically, the medal Maz hands to Chewie could be either Han's or Luke's, since Leia is the last surviving non-evil member of their family. But the fact that Leia has it up until she dies, and that it's given to Chewbacca specifically afterward, seems to signal that this particular medal belonged to Han. It's a bittersweet moment for one of the few characters from the original trilogy left standing by the movie's end.
Chewbacca being given a medal is a reference to a long-standing fan debate over Chewbacca not receiving a medal alongside Luke and Han in A New Hope. But according to conflicting pieces of Star Wars lore, Chewie either already had a medal or refused to accept one. In the Legends comic books, considered not to be official canon, Chewbacca does, in fact, receive his own medal, while George Lucas famously stated in an interview that Wookiees don't accept medals or similar honors. Whether Chewbacca has his own medal or not is mostly irrelevant when it comes to this scene in The Rise of Skywalker. It's less about Chewie getting his due and more about him receiving his best friend's medal from an adventure they went on together. This time, the medal is about a lot more than just bravery.