Military, Civilians to Receive Recognition for Sept. 11 Sacrifice
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2001 Military and civilian personnel killed or injured in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be recognized for their sacrifice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sept. 27.
Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Service members will receive the traditional Purple Heart medal.
Civilian employees will receive the new Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom. Rumsfeld said the civilians killed or wounded in the attack were "combat casualties -- brave men and women who risked their lives to safeguard our freedom, and they paid for our liberty with their lives."
Officials said about 90 civilian employees qualify for the medal. "The establishment of this decoration is a fitting honor and a tribute to the extraordinary dedication and service of the department's civilian workforce," Rumsfeld said.
Prerequisites for award of the civilian medal are the same as for the military Purple Heart. The recipient must have been killed or wounded as a result of hostile actions. The secretary also has the discretion to award the medal to non-DoD civilians, such as contractors killed in the attack.
DoD civilians killed or wounded in the Pentagon, the World Trade Center or aboard any of the hijacked flights are eligible for the Defense of Freedom medal.
The new medal is a golden medallion suspended from a red, white and blue ribbon. The front shows an eagle and shield and the words "Defense of Freedom" while the back has a laurel wreath and the words "On Behalf of a Grateful Nation." There is a space for the name of the recipient.
The Army's Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, Va., designed the medal. The first should be available for distribution in early November.
The Purple Heart and the Defense of Freedom medals are awarded to those killed or wounded in combat. "For most of our history, combat has been something that has mostly taken place on foreign soil," Rumsfeld said. "These strikes were the first on American soil since the Second World War and the first attack on our capital by a foreign enemy since the War of 1812."
He said the Sept. 11 attacks brought the battlefield home. "(The medal) is also a recognition that the world has changed and we can no longer be certain of future wars being waged safely in their regions of origin," he said. "I have every confidence that our armed forces and the dedicated men and women of the Department of Defense are ready to meet the challenges ahead."