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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.

History of the award

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 , with unique and distinctive insignia, vastly expanded purpose, and far higher prestige. 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 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. 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.)

Insignia

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).

Recipients




Gallery


File:A. Philip Randolph Medal of Freedom.jpg|A. Philip Randolph receiving the Medal from President Lyndon Johnson at one of the first ceremonies, 1964 File:Richard Nixon and Duke Ellington 1969.jpg|President Richard Nixon presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Duke Ellington, 1969 File:Apollo 13 with president Nixon.jpg|President Richard Nixon and the Apollo 13 crew (right to left: Jack Swigert, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise) after being presented the award, 1970 File:Jimmy Carter presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Arthur Goldberg. - NARA - 180483.tif|Arthur Goldberg speaking at his ceremony where he was awarded the Medal by President Jimmy Carter, 1978 File:President Ronald Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Medal of Freedom at a White House Ceremony in the Rose Garden.jpg|President Ronald Reagan presenting Mother Teresa with the award, 1985 File:Margaret Thatcher awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom.jpg|Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher receiving the award, in its unusual bow form, from President George H. W. Bush, 1991 File:President Bill Clinton presents Rosa Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the Oval Office.jpg|Rosa Parks receives the award from President Bill Clinton, 1996 File:President George W. Bush Presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award to Fred Rogers.jpg|Fred Rogers smiles as he receives the award from President George W. Bush, 2002 File:President George W. Bush shakes hands with Muhammad Ali.jpg|George W. Bush awarding Muhammad Ali with the Medal, 2005 File:Joseph Medicine Crow-High Bird - Aug 12 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom - with Obama and award.jpg|Joe Medicine Crow, the last Crow war chief, receives the award from President Barack Obama, 2009 File:Sidney Poitier PMF.jpg|President Barack Obama presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sidney Poitier, 2009 File:Oprah Winfrey receives 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom.jpg|Oprah Winfrey receiving the award from President Barack Obama, 2013 File:Joe Biden Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom.jpg|President Barack Obama awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction to Vice President Joe Biden, 2017 File:President Donald J. Trump Presents Medal of Freedom to Roger Staubach - 45863434232.jpg|President Donald Trump awarding Roger Staubach with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2018 File:President Trump Presents the Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods (33919289198).jpg|President Donald Trump presents the Medal to Tiger Woods, 2019 File:Mariano Rivera Receives the Medal of Freedom (48749526726).jpg|President Donald Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mariano Rivera, 2019 File:State of the Union 2020 (49493568103).jpg|First Lady Melania Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh during the 2020 State of the Union Address. File:President Trump Presents the Medal of Freedom to Lou Holtz (50679480707).jpg|President Donald Trump awarding Lou Holtz with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2020 File:President Trump Presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom (50803824461).jpg|President Donald Trump presents the Medal to Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA).

See also

* Awards and decorations of the United States government * Awards and decorations of the United States military

References



External links


"Presidential Medal of Freedom"
an article (undated) fro
jfklibrary.org
the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum's official website. Accessed August 22, 2009.
"Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients"
a list of recipients from May 5, 1993, through August 19, 2009, fro
senate.gov
the U.S. Senate's official website. Accessed August 22, 2009.
"President Bush Honors Medal of Freedom Recipients"
a news release from the White House Press Secretary, December 15, 2006, containing a transcript of President George W. Bush's opening remarks at the December 15, 2006, presentation (with link to individual citations). Hosted o
georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov
a section of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration's official website. Accessed August 22, 2009.
"Medal of Freedom Ceremony" (August 12, 2009)
a news release, August 12, 2009, from the White House Press Secretary a
whitehouse.gov
the White House's official website. Accessed August 22, 2009. * Sanger, David E.
"War Figures Honored With Medal of Freedom"
''The New York Times'', December 15, 2004. {{DEFAULTSORT:Presidential Medal Of Freedom Category:Awards established in 1960 Category:Civil awards and decorations of the United States Category:Presidency of the United States