Medal for Merit

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For the Imperial German decoration colloquially known as the "Blue Max" and bearing a French-language inscription translating as "for merit", see Pour le Mérite.
Medal for Merit
Obverse and reverse of the Medal for Merit
Awarded by President of the United States
Country  United States
Type single grade decoration
Eligibility Civilians of the United states and allied nations
Awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services since the proclamation of an emergency by the President on September 8, 1939
Status No longer awarded
Established July 20, 1942[1]
First awarded March 28, 1944[2]
Last awarded 1952
Next (higher) None (At the time of its awarding)
Next (lower) Medal of Freedom
Medal for Merit.svg
Ribbon bar of the medal

The Medal for Merit was, during the period it was awarded, the highest civilian decoration of the United States, awarded by the President of the United States to civilians for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services ... since the proclamation of an emergency by the President on September 8, 1939".


The Medal for Merit was created by Public Law 77-671 and its awarding codified by Executive Order 9286—Medal for Merit on December 24, 1942, later amended and restated by Executive Order 9857A of May 27, 1947. Created during World War II, and awarded to "civilians of the nations prosecuting the war under the joint declaration of the United Nations and of other friendly foreign nations", the medal has not been awarded since 1952.[3][4]

The first medals were awarded to John C. Garand and Albert Hoyt Taylor on March 28, 1944.[2]

The Medal for Merit is currently listed as seventh in order of precedence of U.S. civilian decorations, below the Silver Lifesaving Medal and above the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.[5]

Civilians of foreign nations could receive the award for the performance of an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act or acts in furtherance of the war efforts of the Allies against the Axis Powers. The first person to receive this medal who was not an American citizen was Edgar Sengier, the director of the Belgian Union Minière du Haut Katanga during World War II. Sengier was awarded the Medal for Merit on April 9, 1946.[6] The second foreign civilian to receive the medal was the British spymaster William Stephenson in November 1946.[7] Stephenson had the code name "Intrepid" during World War II. Some writers consider Stephenson to be one of the real life inspirations for the fictitious character "James Bond".

A confidential inquiry by the White House staff as to whether King George VI of the United Kingdom should be awarded this medal was carried out, but this medal was not awarded to him because the King had not met the American criteria for eligibility.[citation needed]

All proposed awards were considered by the Medal for Merit Board, consisting of three members appointed by the President, of whom one was appointed as the Chairman of the Board. This medal cannot be awarded for any action relating to the prosecution of World War II after the end of hostilities (as proclaimed by Proclamation No. 2714of December 31, 1946), and no proposal for this award for such services could be submitted after June 30, 1947. The last medal of this type was awarded in 1952 after a long delay in processing.

Notable recipients

See also


  1. 77th Congress of the United States (20 July 1942). Wikisource link to Public Law 77-671 To create the decorations to be known as the ‘‘Legion of Merit’’, and the ‘‘Medal for Merit’’. Wikisource. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Scientific Notes and News". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 99 (2571): 276. April 7, 1944. doi:10.1126/science.99.2571.276. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  4. Code of General Regulations, NATIONAL DEFENSE,Department of the Army, DoD National Archives and Records Administration as a Special Eidtion of the Federal Register, Published by the Office of the Federal Register, Washington, July 1, 1085. §578.15 Medal of Merit, pg 344-345
  5. Bureau of Personnel. "Precedence of Awards". United States Navy. Retrieved January 26, 2013. 
  8. "Citation Accompanying Medal for Merit Awarded to Dean Acheson". The American Presidency Project. June 30, 1947. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  9. R. E. Gibson (1980). "Leason Heberling Adams 1887—1969, A Biographical Memoir" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences. p. 9. Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Millikan, son, aide get medals of merit". New York Times. 1949-03-22. Retrieved 2014-10-27. 
  11. Durand, William (1953). Adventures; In the Navy, In Education, Science, Engineering, and in War; A Life Story. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and McGraw-Hill. p. 153. ASIN B0000CIPMH. 
  12. Getting, Ivan A.; Christie, John M. (1994). "David Tressel Griggs". Biographical Memoirs (PDF). 64. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. pp. 112–133. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  13. Dickie, William. "Dillon S. Myer, Who Headed War Relocation Agency, Dies", The New York Times, October 25, 1982, retrieved on April 6, 2014.
  14. "Dr. Richard Roberts, 69, Pioneer As Physicist and Microbiologist". New York Times. 1980-04-07. Retrieved 2014-10-27. 
  15. "Thomas J. Watson Sr. Is Dead; I.B.M. Board Chairman Was 82". The New York Times. June 20, 1956. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 

External links