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The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a decoration bestowed by the President of the United States and is, along with theequivalent Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress, the highest civilian award in the U.S.marker It recognizes those individuals 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 award is not limited to U.S. citizen and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform.

History of the award

The Presidential Medal of Freedom has its roots in the Medal of Freedom established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to honor civilian service during World War II. President John F. Kennedy nominally revived the medal in 1963 through Executive Order 11085. In practical terms, this order created what amounted to a new decoration, with totally different insignia, vastly expanded purpose, and far higher prestige.

The medal is awarded annually, on or near the Fourth of July, and at other times as chosen by the President. Recipients are selected by the President, either on his own initiative or based on recommendations. The order reviving 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.

The medal may be awarded to an individual more than once (for example, John Kenneth Galbraith and Colin Powell), and may also be awarded posthumously (for example, Cesar Chavez, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Roberto Clemente, Jack Kemp, John F. Kennedy and Harvey Milk).


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 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 grade of the medal, known as the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, has the same medal worn as a star on the left chest; in addition, it is worn as a sash on the right shoulder, with its rosette (blue with white edge, bearing the central disc of the medal at its center) resting on the left hip.

Both medals may also be worn in miniature form on a ribbon on the left chest, with a silver American Bald Eagle with spread wings on the ribbon (or a golden American Bald Eagle if a medal "with Distinction"). In addition, the medal is accompanied by a ribbon bar for wear on military uniform and a lapel badge for wear on civilian clothes (all shown in the accompanying photograph of the full presentation set).



Image:President Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Medal of Freedom 1985.jpg|President Ronald Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White Housemarker ceremony in 1985.Image:Margaret Thatcher awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom.jpg|Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush in 1991.Image:GHW Bush presents Reagan Presidential Medal of Freedom 1993.jpg|President George H.W. Bush awards former President Ronald Reagan the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 1993.Image:Blair MOF.jpg|Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush on January 13, 2009.

See also


  1. Executive Order 9586, signed July 6, 1945; Federal Register 10 FR 8523, July 10, 1945
  2. Executive Order 11085, signed February 22, 1963; Federal Register 28 FR 1759, February 26, 1963

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