Presidential Medal of Freedom

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The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a decoration bestowed by the President of the United States and is – along with the equivalent Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress – the highest civilian award in the U.S. 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. citizens 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.[2] 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.[3]

The medal is awarded annually, at convenient times as chosen by the President.[4] 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, Thurgood Marshall, Lyndon Johnson and Harvey Milk).

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