Presidential Medal of Freedom

Last updated
Presidential Medal of Freedom
PresMedalFreedom.jpg
Awarded by the President of the United States of America
TypeMedal
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." [1]
Statistics
Distinct
recipients
Unknown; an average of fewer than 11 per year since 1993
Precedence
Next (higher)None
Equivalent Congressional Gold Medal
Next (lower) Presidential Citizens Medal
Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction (ribbon).PNG Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png
Service ribbon of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(left: Medal with Distinction)

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the president of the United States. The Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal are the highest civilian awards of the United States. It recognizes those 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". [2] 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.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Congressional Gold Medal award

A Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States. It is awarded to people "who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient's field long after the achievement." However, "There are no permanent statutory provisions specifically relating to the creation of Congressional Gold Medals. When a Congressional Gold Medal has been deemed appropriate, Congress has, by legislative action, provided for the creation of a medal on an ad hoc basis." U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Contents

It was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, [3] superseding the Medal of Freedom that was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to honor civilian service during World War II.

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.

Medal of Freedom (1945) award

The Medal of Freedom was a decoration established by President Harry S. Truman to honor civilians whose actions aided in the war efforts of the United States and its allies. It was intended to be awarded by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, or the Secretary of the Navy, but Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy also authorized awards.

Harry S. Truman 33rd president of the United States

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as vice president. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO.

In 2015, President Barack Obama stated that there was no precedent to revoke Presidential Medals of Freedom. [4]

Barack Obama 44th president of the United States

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first African American to be elected to the presidency. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.

History of the award

Similar in name to the Medal of Freedom, [2] but much closer in meaning and precedence to the Medal for Merit, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is currently 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. [5]

Medal for Merit former US civilian decoration

The Medal for Merit was, during the period it was awarded, the highest civilian decoration of the United States. It was awarded by the President of the United States to civilians who "distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services" in the war effort "since the proclamation of an emergency by the President on September 8, 1939" Awards to civilians of foreign nations were eligible "only for the performance of exceptionally meritorious or courageous act or acts in furtherance of the war efforts of the United Nations."

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. [1] 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 which may only be awarded to foreign heads of stateis 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, [5] 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.

Legion of Merit military award of the United States Armed Forces

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 seven uniformed services of the United States as well as to military and political figures of foreign governments.

The Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board was a board created for recommending civilians for awards from the U.S. Federal government for distinguished service. It was originally established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 27, 1957 by Executive Order 10717 to recommend to the President people in the U.S. Civil Service to receive the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service. Its mandate was expanded via Executive Order 11085 by President John F. Kennedy on February 22, 1963, so that the board would recommend to the President people to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The medal may be awarded to an individual more than once; Colin Powell received two awards, his second being With Distinction; [6] Ellsworth Bunker received both of his awards With Distinction. It may also be awarded posthumously (after the death of the originator); examples (in chronological order) include John F. Kennedy, Pope John XXIII, Lyndon Johnson, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Thurgood Marshall, Cesar Chavez, Roberto Clemente, Jack Kemp, Harvey Milk, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Elouise Cobell, Grace Hopper, [7] Antonin Scalia, Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth. [8] (Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, civil rights workers murdered in 1964, were awarded their medals in 2014, 50 years later.)

Colin Powell Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired four-star general

Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. During his military career, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Persian Gulf War. Powell was the first, and so far the only, Jamaican American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under U.S. President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, the first black person to serve in that position.

Ellsworth Bunker American diplomat

Ellsworth F. Bunker was an American businessman and diplomat. He is perhaps best known for being a hawk on the war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia during the 1960s and 1970s. As of 2018, Bunker is one of two people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.

Pope John XXIII 261st Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope John XXIII was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 28 October 1958 to his death in 1963; he was canonized on 27 April 2014. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was one of thirteen children born to a family of sharecroppers who lived in a village in Lombardy. He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 August 1904 and served in a number of posts, as nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In a consistory on 12 January 1953 Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him as the Patriarch of Venice.

Insignia

Medal and accoutrements including undress ribbon, miniature, and lapel badge. Presidential-medal-of-freedom.jpg
Medal and accoutrements including undress ribbon, miniature, and lapel badge.
Graphical representation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction as worn with white tie. PMOFwD1.jpg
Graphical representation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction as worn with white tie.

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.

A special rarely given grade of the medal, known as the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, [9] 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 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).

Recipients

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Executive Order 11085, signed February 22, 1960; Federal Register 28
  2. 1 2 Executive Order 9586, signed July 6, 1945; Federal Register 10 FR 8523, July 10, 1945
  3. "President Kennedy's Executive Order 11085: Presidential Medal of Freedom - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum". www.jfklibrary.org. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  4. "Obama asked if Bill Cosby's Medal of Freedom will be revoked". PBS NewsHour.
  5. 1 2 "U.S. Senate: Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients". 17 November 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  6. Clinton, W. J. (September 30, 1993). "Remarks on the Retirement of General Colin Powell in Arlington, Virginia". University of California, Santa Barbara: The American Presidency Project. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 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.
  7. US White House (November 16, 2016). "President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom" . Retrieved 22 Nov 2016.
  8. CNN, Veronica Stracqualursi,. "Trump to award Medal of Freedom to Elvis, Babe Ruth, among others". CNN. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  9. Torreon, Barbara Salazar (31 Mar 2004). A Guide to Major Congressional and Presidential Awards (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. RS20884. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service – Library of Congress (United States Government). p. 4. Retrieved 2011-02-09. There are two degrees of the Medal, the higher being the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction.