Medal for Merit
|Medal for Merit|
Obverse and reverse of the Medal for Merit
|Awarded by President of the 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|
|First awarded||March 28, 1944|
|Next (higher)||None (At the time of its awarding)|
|Next (lower)||Medal of Freedom|
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". It 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.
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.
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 was not an American citizen: Edgar Sengier, who was the director of the Belgian Union Minière du Haut Katanga during World War II, was awarded it on April 9, 1946. The second person to receive the medal, in November 1946, was the British spymaster William Stephenson who had the code name of "Intrepid" during World War II. Some writers consider Stephenson to be one of the real life inspirations for the fictitious character "James Bond".
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.
- Dean Acheson (June 30, 1947)
- Leason H. Adams (1948)
- James Gilbert Baker (1948)
- Chester I. Barnard
- Irving Berlin (1945)
- Vannevar Bush (May 27, 1948)
- G. Edward Buxton Jr. (November 30, 1946)
- James B. Conant (May 27, 1948)
- Granville Conway (July 16, 1947)
- Albert de Vleeschauwer
- Joseph Desch (July 16, 1947)
- John R. Dunning (1946)
- William Frederick Durand (1946)
- Enrico Fermi (1946)
- William F. Friedman (1946)
- Jack Frye (December 18, 1946)
- John C. Garand (March 28, 1944)
- Ivan A. Getting
- Leroy Randle Grumman (1948)
- Gaylord P. Harnwell
- W. Averell Harriman (1946)
- Clarence N. Hickman (1948)
- J. Edgar Hoover (March 8, 1946)
- Bob Hope
- Cordell Hull (April 15, 1947)
- Jerome Clarke Hunsaker (1946)
- Frederick Vinton Hunt
- Louis Johnson (October 1, 1947)
- Eric Johnston (1947)
- Al Jolson (1950)
- Paul E. Klopsteg (1948)
- Edward F. Knipling (1947)
- Frank Knox, the Secretary of the Navy through 1944, on May 31, 1945, posthumously.
- Julius A. Krug (May 1, 1946)
- George William Lewis (1948)
- Alfred Lee Loomis
- Paul V. McNutt (November 27, 1946)
- George W. Merck (1946)
- Clark B. Millikan
- Raymond D. Mindlin
- Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (December 12, 1945)
- Philip McCord Morse (December 1946)
- William Beverly Murphy (1946)
- Dillon S. Myer
- David K. Niles (August 20, 1947)
- Brian O’Brien
- J. Robert Oppenheimer (1946)
- Linus Carl Pauling (February 2, 1948)
- William D. Pawley (May 13, 1946)
- Howard C. Petersen (1947)
- Byron Price (January 15, 1946)
- Eddie Rickenbacker
- Samuel I. Rosenman (January 24, 1946)
- Edgar Sengier
- James Augustine Shannon (1948)
- William Shockley (1946)
- Cyril Stanley Smith
- John Wesley Snyder (May 14, 1947)
- William Stephenson (1946)
- Myron C. Taylor (December 20, 1948)
- Albert Hoyt Taylor (March 28, 1944)
- Frederick Emmons Terman
- Charles Allen Thomas (January 30, 1946)
- Juan T. Trippe (September 27, 1946)
- Fred M. Vinson (October 3, 1947)
- Theodore von Kármán (1946)
- John von Neumann (1947)
- Sidney James Weinberg (19 September 1946)
- Charles Erwin Wilson (1946)
- Stephen J. Zand
- 77th Congress of the United States (20 July 1942). Public Law 77-671 To create the decorations to be known as the ‘‘Legion of Merit’’, and the ‘‘Medal for Merit’’. Wikisource.
- "Scientific Notes and News". Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 99 (2571): p.276. April 7, 1944. doi:10.1126/science.99.2571.276. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Bureau of Personnel. "Precedence of Awards". United States Navy. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- "Citation Accompanying Medal for Merit Awarded to Dean Acheson". The American Presidency Project. June 30, 1947. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- R. E. Gibson (1980). "Leason Heberling Adams 1887—1969, A Biographical Memoir". National Academy of Sciences. p. 9. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- 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.
- Dickie, William. "Dillon S. Myer, Who Headed War Relocation Agency, Dies", The New York Times, October 25, 1982, retrieved on April 6, 2014.
- NARA - Federal Register - Executive Order 9637--Medal for Merit
- Picture of certificate attached to Medal for Merit issued by President Truman to Linus Carl Pauling
- Picture of Medal of Merit
- Exploring the Medal for Merit, Philip J. Schlegel, 2012. Includes list of recipients.