of Defense Press Release
Unveiling the Defense of Freedom Medal
September 27, 2001
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced today the creation of the
Defense of Freedom medal to honor civilian employees of the Department of Defense
injured or killed in the line of duty.
The Defense of Freedom medal will be the civilian equivalent of the military's
Purple Heart. The first recipients to be honored will be those Defense Department
civilians injured or killed recently as a result of the terrorist attack on
At the discretion of the Secretary of Defense, the medal may be awarded to non-Defense
employees, such as contractors, based on their involvement in Department of
The medal itself consists of a golden circle framing a bald eagle holding a
shield which exemplifies the principles of freedom and the defense of those
freedoms upon which our nation is founded. The reverse of the medal is inscribed
with "On Behalf of a Grateful Nation" with a space for the recipient's
name to be inscribed. The laurel wreath represents honor and high achievement.
The ribbon is the red, white and blue. The red stripes commemorate valor and
sacrifice. The wide blue stripe represents strength. The white stripes symbolize
liberty as represented in our national flag. The number of red stripes represents
the four terrorist attacks using hijacked airplanes and the single blue stripe
represents the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
"This medal acknowledges civilian employees of the Department of Defense
and other civilians in service to the Department of Defense who are killed or
injured while on duty," said Charles S. Abell, assistant secretary of Defense
for Force Management Policy. "It reinforces the total force concept that
makes our nation so strong."