6 July 1945 – U.S. President Truman signed an order creating the Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to honor civilian service during World War II. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy, established the Presidential Medal of Freedom, superseding the Truman award.
“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.
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). “(1)
People who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (with Distinction) who were members of the military at some time in their lives:
- USAF General Richard B. Meyers -President Bush called General Myers a model officer who retired after more than 40 years in uniform. He said Myers was always “deliberate, unflinching and calm in a storm.”
- Dean Rusk – cadet lieutenant colonel commanding the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Captain and Staff Officer in the CBI Theatre, WWII.
- Donald Rumsfield – Served in the Navy for three years
- Caspar Weinberger -Served with the 41st Infantry Division in the Pacific theater of World War II.
- Ronald Reagan – Army Enlisted Reserve, April 29, 1937, as a Private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines, Iowa.
- Colin Powell – 4-star Army General