Defense Department creates civilian purple heart

The Defense Department has created a new medal for Defense civilians killed or injured in the recent terrorist hijackings.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday that the new Defense of Freedom Medal is the civilian equivalent of the military's purple heart, which is awarded to uniformed personnel killed or injured in battle. Defense civilians injured or killed as the result of future hostile actions while supporting the department will also be eligible for the award, he added.

Charles Abell, assistant secretary of Defense for force management, said 90 medals had been ordered for Defense civilians killed at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center towers and aboard the hijacked airliners. Additional civilian medal winners are likely to be identified as injury reports are updated, Abell added.

Civilians working for contractors in support of Defense operations who were injured or killed also are eligible for the award. The Defense Secretary will review such awards on a case-by-case basis, Abell added.

The medal is a gold medallion whose front side features a bald eagle holding a shield with the words "Defense of Freedom" above it. On the back, the medallion says "On Behalf of a Grateful Nation" and has a space for engraving the civilian's name, just above a laurel wreath, which represents honor and high achievement.

The medal hangs from a red, white and blue ribbon. The ribbon's four red stripes-one for each of the hijacked planes-signify valor and sacrifice. A single, wide blue stripe on the ribbon signifies strength and represents the attack on the Pentagon. The ribbon's white stripes symbolize liberty.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.