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Medal of Honour


bigjarofwasps
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Hi Guys,

Can anyone answer this question for me...

In the UK we have two awards the Victoria Cross & the George Cross, but I`m sure your all well aware of that & what there both for.

That being said I know the US has the Medal of Honour, but can this award also be given on the same lines as the George Cross, or is there a different medal for this purpose?

Gordon.

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The Medal of Honor (you show the air force variety) is only for military gallantry in action. The US, being historically awards-phobic, has NO awards for any sort of civilian gallantry (and few enough for any sort of civilian anything). Trying to draw too many parallels between various countries honors systems will only make you crazy and each system is an outgrowth of the political psychology and sociology of a given place and a specific moment in time. (This is why when the self-righteous traditionalists start whining about change in "their" traditions they are ignorant that those "traditiona" have always been changing and that there has never been much system" in the system, any system.)

.

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As I understand it, the George is now more or less officially an Order Of The Dead, granted only POSTHUMOUSLY for things like failed attempted lifesaving.

(The old Albert Medals by land and by sea are apparently defunct, so what do the living get nowadays?)

Over here, lifesaving tends to be recognized by private foundations, with the Carnegie Heroes' Medal being the most prestigious-- and also involves a "Nobel Prize" type cash grant too, if memory serves.

Otherwise it is up to somebody at local level

a) noticing

b) applying

c) processing

and

d) eventually getting something from some organization like a state lifesaving/humane society. :sleep:

Police and fire personnel have their own intra-departmental awards, which are sadly absolutely unrecognized outside local ranks.

The various U.S. government departments all hand out various "Distinguished Paperpushing" awards, which are apparently never worn at all except when handed over.

So no, there is no equivalent whatsoever in the U.S. for the range of British civilian recognition, from MBEs to GCs to knighthoods.

Civic virtue and courage were simply expected to be the norm in happier days, sigh.

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Cheers Guys, thats about wrapped that one up for me!! :jumping:

Rick, re the `Order of the Dead`, to a certain extent your right, but the war on terror seems to have changed that thinking slighty, with a VC awared in Iraq 2004, and the two GC`s in Iraq 2003 & 2005, all awarded to living soldiers. Granted the VC & GC of Afganistan 2006 were both to fallen soldiers. I think in the case of the GC there have been more awared to the living than the dead, in recent years anyway, certainly more than that of the VC. But one could argue that although there supposed to be of equal merit, the VC certain comes across as the higher award & if not the more famous. Anyway back on topic, its very interesting to see that the US doesn`t have a civilian award, that does surprise me!!!!

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There is a civilian law enforcement equivalent of the Medal of Honor. It is the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor. From the enabling legislation ("Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001"):

After September 1, 2001, the President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a Medal of Valor of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a public safety officer who is cited by the Attorney General, upon the recommendation of the Medal of Valor Review Board, for extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty. The Public Safety Medal of Valor shall be the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer.

Public safety officer is defined as "a person serving a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter, law enforcement officer, or emergency services officer, as determined by the Attorney General. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term 'law enforcement officer' includes a person who is a corrections or court officer or a civil defense officer."

More information: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/medalofvalor/welcome.html

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What about the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Harry Truman instituted it as the "US Medal of Freedom" in 1945 to reward civilians for exceptionally meritous service in wartime. Foreigners were eligible as well as Americans and the USMoF was awarded for bravery as well as merit, as the awards to members of resistance organisations like Elaine Delhaye-Gill, Marie Louise Dissard and Andr?e de Jongh in former Occupied Europe for bravery show. Dwight Eisenhower awarded it in 1954 to Genevieve de Galard-Terraube, the French nurse known as the Angel of Dien Bien Phu. Galard-Terraube also received the Bronze Palm.

John F Kennedy reactivated it in 1963 as the "Presidential Medal of Freedom" for "especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors" (Executive Order 11085 dated Feb. 22, 1963). Foreign recipients include Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa and Anwar Sadat. In 2004, Dubya gave it to actress Doris Day and golfer Arnold Palmer. The George Cross has not so far been awarded for services to the screen or golf but give it time...

There is also the Congressional Gold Medal. Then there's the Defence of Freedom Medal, described as a "civilian Purple Heart". The first awards will apparently be to civilian employees killed or wounded in the attack on the Pentagon in 2001. It does not look as if this award will be open to civilians who are not employed or contracted by the US Department of Defence so maybe it doesn't count.

PK

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OK, ya got us. The Medal of Freedom IS about the closest American equivalent to a British knighthood--

it is largely given (of recent years) to retiring political hacks, moribund entertainers, and the like.

"Ordinary folk" do not, and apparently never will, get it. It's a gong for celebrity or political self-congratulation.

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I'm afraid a lot of things are getting mixed up here.

There is NO civilian (or even military) award in the US for non-combat gallantry that in any way parallels the GC or MoH.

The (incredibly ugly, I think) "Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor" (and the spaceman medal of honor) are not intended for general civilian award, being targeted rather on specially privileged politically focused sub-populations. More like the QPM than the GC. And, as I understand it, it is an agency award, and not a national award..

Even military awards for non-combatant gallantry haven't been easy for the US to conceptualise, as the Soldiers' Medal (and other-branch equivalents) are distinctly lower in the pyramid than the MoH.

The first Presidential Medal of Freedom was in general an award for intelligence service in WWII, and was widely awarded to foreigners (much like the King's Medals in the Cause of Freedom). The reincarnated Presidential Medal is Freedom is political and cultural, having nothing at all to do with bravery; more like a KBE. It seems now to be seen as something less prestegious and more political than, say, the Kennedy Center Honors.

The Congressional gold medals are not part of the informal US honors "system". These unwearable awards are just slabs of gold, custom-struck as a remembrance paperweight for each recipient of a unique motion of love and kisses from the Congress.

The "Defence of Freedom Medal", as Prosper rightly observes, is part of the growing flock of Department of Defence civilian awards. Created in the context of 11 September (as have been many new awards), it is in fact restricted to civilian employees of the Department fo Defence (and not, so far as I know, to contractors like Blackwater or even Halliburton).

Again, while comparisons are difficult and habitually flawed, each nation's ever-shifting honors "system" says a lot about the psychology (psycho-pathology?) of that nation at a single moment in history.

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OK, ya got us. The Medal of Freedom IS about the closest American equivalent to a British knighthood--

it is largely given (of recent years) to retiring political hacks, moribund entertainers, and the like.

"Ordinary folk" do not, and apparently never will, get it. It's a gong for celebrity or political self-congratulation.

Just like the L?gion d'Honneur...

:D

P

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The first Presidential Medal of Freedom was in general an award for intelligence service in WWII, and was widely awarded to foreigners (much like the King's Medals in the Cause of Freedom). The reincarnated Presidential Medal is Freedom is political and cultural, having nothing at all to do with bravery; more like a KBE. It seems now to be seen as something less prestegious and more political than, say, the Kennedy Center Honors.

Very true, Ed. The King's Medal in the Cause of Freedom was also given to some Resistance operatives, as was the US Medal of Freedom. Of course, at a stretch, their activities fell partly under the intelligence umbrella as they were run by or worked in collaboration with Allied secret services. The original Truman and Eisenhower-era medal was indeed rather different in nature to the Kennedy reincarnation. As a matter of interest, here is the text of Gen?vi?ve de Galard-Terraube's citation in 1954:

July 29, 1954

THE PRESIDENT of the United States of America, authorized by Executive Order, July 6, 1945, has awarded the Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm, to Mademoiselle Genevieve de Galard-Terraube, French Airborne Nurse, for meritorious service.

MEDAL OF FREEDOM (WITH BRONZE PALM)

Mademoiselle Genevieve de Galard-Terraube, French Airborne Nurse, by her ministrations to the sick and wounded at Dien Bien Phu, inspired and heartened the entire free world. Her service to her comrades, marked by the courage of a woman in battle and by the devotion of a nurse to her sworn duty, has been unsurpassed in this century. Her supreme fortitude in hours of peril, her unfaltering dedication to her mission reflected the greatness of spirit manifested on many fields, in many centuries, by the soldiers of France.

The Republic she serves so nobly has been an ally of the United States for 178 years. The continuing friendship between the peoples of the two Republics is symbolized today in their joined salute to Mademoiselle de Galard-Terraube. Her service at Dien Bien Phu reflects great credit upon herself and her country and the cause of freedom around the world.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

The "Defence of Freedom Medal", as Prosper rightly observes, is part of the growing flock of Department of Defence civilian awards. Created in the context of 11 September (as have been many new awards), it is in fact restricted to civilian employees of the Department fo Defence (and not, so far as I know, to contractors like Blackwater or even Halliburton).

Were Blackwater "security consultants" nominated for the Defence of Freedom Medal for their activities in Iraq, it would set quite an interesting precedent in the modern West in that a Western government would officially be rewarding private mercenaries. Western governments haven't officially employed mercenaries since the Landesknecht. There again, it all depends upon one's definition of "mercenary". One can point to the French Foreign Legion or the Swiss Guard or even the Gurkhas of the British Army. One might even describe the Indian Army of Raj times as a mercenary force because it was, essentially, the army of the Honourable East India Company by another name. But it isn't quite the same.

The Landesknecht, like the "security consultants" outnumbering regular soldiers by four to one in Iraq, were lances-for-hire in the purest sense, just as Blackwater's men are guns-for-hire. So they were freebooting mercenaries, just like, say, the men in units made famous in post-colonial Africa by the likes of Bob Denard, Congo M?ller and Mad Mike Hoare. So, making employees or contractors working for Blackwater and Halliburton eligible for the Defence of Freedom Medal would probably bring into sharp focus, amongst other things, Section Nine of UN Resolution 34/44 of 23.11.1979, which states:

9. Reaffirms that the practice of using mercenaries against national liberation movements and sovereign States constitutes a criminal act and that the mercenaries themselves are criminals, and calls upon the Governments of all countries to enact legislation declaring the recruitment, financing and training of mercenaries in their territory and the transit of mercenaries through their territory to be punishable offences and prohibiting their nationals from serving as mercenaries, and to report on such legislation to the Security Council;

Hmmmmmm...

Anyway, sorry for the digression. I was mildly amused by the idea of making Blackwater and Halliburton gunmen eligible for official US awards. What next? A Presidential Medal of Freedom for ex-Halliburton CEO-turned US Vice-President Dick Cheney? And maybe a Nobel Peace Prize while we are at it...

PK

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I think you are reading too much into the various comments here, Dave. Ed Haynes raised the issue of civilian defence contractors - the euphemism for mercenaries - in a legitimate way and I proposed a possible reason for the apparent restriction of the award to certain categories of civilian defence employees. That falls within the scope of legitimate discussion concerning civilian awards. I suppose you probably see, for instance, the Dick Cheney allusion as out of place but it is no more out of place here than observing, sardonically, that individuals like Margaret Thatcher, actresses and golfers were awarded the Medal of Freedom. It's not "political". It is more of an ironic commentary on the devaluation and degradation of institutions, delivered in a sardonic manner. That is allowable in a discussion of awards and awards criteria, isn't it?

PK

Edited by PKeating
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I think you are reading too much into the various comments here, Dave. Ed Haynes raised the issue of civilian defence contractors - the euphemism for mercenaries - in a legitimate way and I proposed a possible reason for the apparent restriction of the award to certain categories of civilian defence employees. That falls within the scope of legitimate discussion concerning civilian awards. I suppose you probably see, for instance, the Dick Cheney allusion as out of place but it is no more out of place here than observing, sardonically, that individuals like Margaret Thatcher, actresses and golfers were awarded the Medal of Freedom. It's not "political". It is more of an ironic commentary on the devaluation and degradation of institutions, delivered in a sardonic manner. That is allowable in a discussion of awards and awards criteria, isn't it?

PK

"Mercenaries" is not euphemistic. It is a politically loaded term and I know you are too smart to not realize this. And, by the way, by what stretch of the definition, politically loaded or not, are Halliburton employees mercenaries? Halliburton, through KBR, provides logistics support - cooks, construction workers, laundry and the like - services the armed forces cannot provide for itself due to cutbacks in the size of the forces and a conscious decision to shift such non-military work to private contractors. As The Nation has reported, KBR doesn't even do its own security, but has contracted with Blackwater and the like for security for its workers. As for Blackwater and other private security contractors, even here "mercenary" is a loaded term. The primary role of PSCs is security for government agencies, oil companies, etc. Is the security guard hired by my local McDonalds a mercenary? Also, most PSCs do not even work for DOD. They are hired by other government agencies such as the State Department or by private companies operating in countries like Iraq who need security. Blackwater's main contract in Iraq is with the State Department, because the Bureau of Diplomatic Security does not have the personnel. The four Blackwater employees murdered in Fallujah in 2004 were escorting a food convoy belonging to Eurest Support Services.

Edited by Dave Danner
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I'm afraid a lot of things are getting mixed up here.

There is NO civilian (or even military) award in the US for non-combat gallantry that in any way parallels the GC or MoH.

The (incredibly ugly, I think) "Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor" (and the spaceman medal of honor) are not intended for general civilian award, being targeted rather on specially privileged politically focused sub-populations. More like the QPM than the GC. And, as I understand it, it is an agency award, and not a national award..

As noted above, the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor was created by an Act of Congress. It is awarded by the President in the name of Congress. That makes it a national award as far as I can tell. Indeed, it is more of a national award by these criteria than the Bronze Star Medal, for example, which was created by Executive Order of the President.

The "Defence of Freedom Medal", as Prosper rightly observes, is part of the growing flock of Department of Defence civilian awards. Created in the context of 11 September (as have been many new awards), it is in fact restricted to civilian employees of the Department fo Defence (and not, so far as I know, to contractors like Blackwater or even Halliburton).

From the regulations governing the medal:

"Eligibility: The medal shall be awarded to any DoD civilian employee meeting the definition of ?employee? under title 5 United States Code, Section 2105, and who is eligible for an award under DoD 1400.25-M, Subchapter 451, ?Awards,? including employees of non-appropriated fund activities, when killed or wounded by hostile action while serving under any competent authority of the Department under conditions for which a military member would be eligible for receipt of the Purple Heart. Additionally, the Secretary of Defense has discretionary authority to award this medal to non-Defense personnel who are otherwise qualified to be awarded the medal based on their involvement in DoD activities." [empasis added] See: http://cpol.army.mil/library/permiss/5487.html

The medal has in fact been awarded to employees of Halliburtons' KBR subsidiary and other contractors for DOD. According to an April 2007 report in Mother Jones, "119 American contractors (95 of them kbr [sic] employees) have been awarded the Defense of Freedom medal".

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Dave,

Awards for mercenaries is an interesting topic. A good friend of my family was decorated by the short-lived Katangese government for his leadership of a mercenary unit in that part of the Congo in 1961. Mind you, he was fighting for the government in question. Had he been fighting for the Belgians, suppressing the natives, it would not have been quite the same thing.

I did not describe "mercenaries" as a euphemism. I said that "civilian defence contractors" was a euphemism for "mercenaries". Conversely, you are too smart not to understand that I am not talking about cooks, drivers, ditchdiggers and sundry gofers. The term "private security contractors" is even more "sinister" in this respect. Irregular soldiers, corporate paramilitaries, call them what you will, are estimated to outnumber regular or legitimate soldiers by almost four to one in Iraq. These men are, for the most part, clearly in it for the money. Many are Americans but many are from Britain and other countries.

mer?ce?nary

Pronunciation: 'm&r-s&-"ner-E, -ne-rE

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural -nar?ies

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin mercenarius, irregular from merced-, merces wages -- more at MERCY

: one that serves merely for wages; especially : a soldier hired into foreign service

I think the term "mercenaries" is a fair way of describing the corporate private military units controlled by firms like KBR and Blackwater and I think that it is reasonable to mention this in a discussion about eligibility for the Defence Medal of Freedom, especially as civilian defence contractors do seem to be eligible for it. If any of these gunmen receive one, it will represent a sea change in official Western attitudes to mercenary forces, although our rulers are, of course, somewhat hypocritical when it comes to mercenaries. London, for instance, was quite content to see parts of Sierra Leone cleaned up by a mercenary force run by ex-British Army officers with close ties to Whitehall but threw a diplomat to the lions for assisting the mercenaries on the ground. Federal awards for KBR and Blackwater mercenaries would also be a public finger-flipping exercise with regard to the UN resolution I quoted. Current White House contempt for the UN as an organisation is hardly a secret but one must nevertheless maintain a fa?ade of decorum in such matters! :D

However, I'm not going to be drawn into a ideological debate with you about the function of hired gunmen in Iraq, Dave. In any case, such a discussion would be futile because I am not actually against the presence of these gunmen in Iraq. I wouldn't mind seeing them patrolling European cities too and hosing down some of our jihadis and their little helpers. My point was purely that rendering them eligible for state awards might prove a tough sell for the administration's spinmeisters once what is left of your investigative press got their teeth into it. That's all. No need to be so sensitive! It falls well within scope of a discussion about civilian awards for merit and valour.

Of course, it all depends up the definition of "mercenary". Foreign volunteers serving in the French Foreign Legion, for instance, could be described thus. So could Nepalese volunteers in the Gurkha units of the British Army. Going back a little further - and I expect Ed might have something to say - one could at a push describe the soldiers employed by the Honourable East India Company in early colonial days in India as mercenaries. This raises a question over the actual status of the Indian Army of the Raj era. Sure, this is off-topic in this particular section but it is surely alright to mention such subjects in passing as part of a global discussion about official awards for unoffical soldiers, isn't it?

Were we sitting in a pub talking about this, we wouldn't have someone saying "off topic" every time the conversation dipped and dived into other matters as participants added to the richness of its tapestry work, would we? Bringing it back to the United States, I see a clear parallel between, say, Halliburton in Iraq and the r?le of The Ohio Company in what Sir Winston Churchill - half-American himself - described as "the first First World War" in the 1750s, with Dick Cheney in the part of Robert Dinwiddie. They didn't have medals for valour as such back then but George Washington would have qualified for one as a result of his artifical elevation to hero status after the debacle of Fort Necessity. He might have been decorated a second time after the Battle of the Wilderness too. Mind you, as a mere civilian attached to the Braddock Expedition, he might not have been, honorific military rank notwithstanding. Like the, um, "private security contractors" and, er, "civilian defence contractors" patrolling Iraq, defending KBR interests, the soldiers of the Virginian Militia were defending private corporate interests rather than the interests of the British Crown.

So...should KBR employees receive the Defence of Freedom Medal, given that they are not defending the freedom of United States citizens nor of citizens anywhere else but simply defending the interests of their multi-national employers?

Tricky question...

:D

PK

Edited by PKeating
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