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medals Decorations and orders

military civil merit honor

Decorations, medals, and orders, awards acknowledging exceptional civil or military service, acts of bravery, and notable achievements in the arts and sciences. In the United States the highest civil decoration is the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the Medal for Merit is also a civil decoration for outstanding services. The highest military decoration “for conspicuous gallantry at the risk of life” is the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Purple Heart (once George Washington's Badge of Military Merit and revived in 1932) is awarded to service people wounded by enemy action. Britain's highest military decoration is the Victoria Cross, which, like other British decorations, may also be awarded to nationals of Commonwealth countries such as Canada. France awards the Médaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre, and also recognizes outstanding civil or military service by membership (in various grades) in the Legion of Honor. There were also different grades of Germany's most famous decoration, the Iron Cross, which was awarded up through World War II. The highest award of the German Federal Republic is now the Order of Merit. The Soviet Union has many orders, but its highest honor is the Heroes of the Soviet Union medal. China has such honors as Hero of the Army of the People's Liberation. Japan has the Order of the Chrysanthemum.

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