|Presidential Medal of Freedom|
|Awarded for||"An especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."|
|Presented by||the President of the United States of America|
|Total recipients||647; an average of fewer than 11 per year since 1993|
|Equivalent||Congressional Gold Medal|
|Next (lower)||Presidential Citizens Medal|
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the president of the United States to recognize people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." The Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal are the highest civilian awards of the United States. The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform. It was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, superseding the Medal of Freedom that was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to honor civilian service during World War II.
Similar in name to the Medal of Freedom,but much closer in meaning and precedence to the Medal for Merit, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was formerly the supreme civilian decoration in precedence in the United States, whereas the Medal of Freedom was inferior in precedence to the Medal for Merit; the Medal of Freedom was awarded by any of three Cabinet secretaries, whereas the Medal for Merit was awarded by the president, as is the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
President John F. Kennedy established the current decoration in 1963 through Executive Order 11085, with unique and distinctive insignia, vastly expanded purpose, and far higher prestige. —which may only be awarded to foreign heads of state—is a star decoration but without a sash). The executive order calls for the medal to be awarded annually on or around July 4, and at other convenient times as chosen by the president, but it has not been awarded every year (e.g., 2001, 2010). Recipients are selected by the president, either on the president's own initiative or based on recommendations. The order establishing the medal also expanded the size and the responsibilities of the Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board so it could serve as a major source of such recommendations.It was the first U.S. civilian neck decoration and, in the grade of Awarded With Distinction, is the only U.S. sash and star decoration (the Chief Commander degree of the Legion of Merit
The medal may be awarded to an individual more than once; Colin Powell received two awards, his second being With Distinction;Ellsworth Bunker received both of his awards With Distinction. It may also be awarded posthumously; examples (in chronological order) include John Wayne, John F. Kennedy, Pope John XXIII, Lyndon Johnson, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Thurgood Marshall, Cesar Chavez, Walter Reuther, Roberto Clemente, Jack Kemp, Harvey Milk, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Elouise Cobell, Grace Hopper, Antonin Scalia, Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth. (Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, civil rights workers murdered in 1964, were awarded their medals in 2014, 50 years later.)
The badge of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is in the form of a golden star with white enamel, with a red enamel pentagon behind it; the central disc bears thirteen gold stars on a blue enamel background (taken from the Great Seal of the United States) within a golden ring. Golden North American bald eagles with spread wings stand between the points of the star. It is worn around the neck on a blue ribbon with white edge stripes. Women may choose to wear the award on a bow on the left chest (See award being given to Margaret Thatcher).
A special rarely given grade of the medal, known as the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction,has a larger execution of the same medal design worn as a star on the left chest along with a sash over the right shoulder (similar to how the insignia of a Grand Cross is worn), with its rosette (blue with white edge, bearing the central disc of the medal at its center) resting on the left hip. When the medal With Distinction is awarded, the star may be presented descending from a neck ribbon and can be identified by its larger size than the standard medal (compare the size of medals in pictures below).
Both medals may also be worn in miniature form on a ribbon on the left chest, with a silver North American bald eagle with spread wings on the ribbon, or a golden North American bald eagle for a medal awarded With Distinction. In addition, the medal is accompanied by a service ribbon for wear on military service uniform, a miniature medal pendant for wear on mess dress or civilian formal wear, and a lapel badge for wear on civilian clothes (all shown in the accompanying photograph of the full presentation set).
The Legion of Merit (LOM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. The decoration is issued to members of the eight uniformed services of the United States as well as to military and political figures of foreign governments.
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A rosette is a small, circular device that is typically presented with a medal. The rosettes are either worn on the medal to denote a higher rank, or for situations where wearing the medal is deemed inappropriate, such as on a suit. Rosettes are issued in nations such as Belgium, France, Italy and Japan. Rosettes are also sometimes called bowknots, due to their shape. Moreover, a large rosette is sometimes pinned onto the ribbon which suspends a medal, typically the Officer 's badge of certain orders of chivalry.
The Presidential Citizens Medal is an award bestowed by the President of the United States. It is the second-highest civilian award in the United States and is subordinate only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Established by executive order on November 13, 1969, by President Richard Nixon, it recognizes an individual "who has performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens." Only United States citizens are eligible for the medal, which may be awarded posthumously.
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Awards and decorations of the United States government are civilian awards of the U.S. federal government which are typically issued for sustained meritorious service, in a civilian capacity, while serving in the U.S. federal government. Certain U.S. government awards may also be issued to military personnel of the United States Armed Forces and be worn in conjunction with awards and decorations of the United States military. In order of precedence, those U.S. non-military awards and decorations authorized for wear are worn after U.S. military personal decorations and unit awards and before U.S. military campaign and service awards.
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In recognition of your legacy and service, of your courage and accomplishment, today, General Powell, I was honored to present you with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with distinction. I want to tell all those here in attendance that this was the second Medal of Freedom you have received, the first from President Bush in 1991. And today, you became only the second American citizen in the history of the Republic to be the recipient of two Medals of Freedom.
There are two degrees of the Medal, the higher being the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction.
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