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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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