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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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