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John F. Kennedy: Statement by the President Upon Issuing Order Relating to the Medal of Freedom.
IN A PERIOD when the national government must call upon an increasing portion of the talents and energies of its citizens, it is clearly appropriate to provide ways to recognize and reward the work of persons, within and without the Government, who contribute significantly to the quality of American life. In the years since World War II a number of important Presidential honors have been established for this purpose. Of these, the Medal of Freedom has emerged as the highest civil honor conferred by the President for service in peacetime. However, until now no procedure has been established whereby awards are made on a regular, systematic basis. If civil honors are to serve their proper function of rewarding and encouraging public service and high achievement in all forms of endeavor that are touched with the public interests such arrangements are necessary. Executive Order 11085 establishes such a procedure and provides safeguards to ensure that the President will receive considered and prudent advice as to those who should receive such honors.
Note: The Medal of Freedom was established by Executive Order 9586 of July 6, 1945, as an award for meritorious, war-connected acts or services. Executive Order 10336 of April 3, 1952, provided that it could be awarded also for meritorious acts or services in the interests of the security of the United States.
Executive Order 11085 (Feb. 21, 1963, 28 F.R. 1759; 3 CFR, 1963 Supp.) renamed the award the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It broadened its scope to include persons who had made especially meritorious contributions to "(1) The security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." The order provided that nominations to the President for the award would be made by the Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board which was expanded to include five additional members appointed from outside the executive branch. The order also provided that announcements of the awards would be made annually, normally on July 4.
The release, of which the President's statement is a part, lists the following members of the Awards Board: Henry Cabot Lodge, Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, Samuel I. Newhouse, Mary McGrory, and Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, appointed from outside the executive branch; Robert F. Kennedy; W. Willard Wirtz, Anthony J. Celebrezze, George W. Ball, and Roswell L. Gilpatric, appointed from within the executive branch. The release stated that Mr. Ball would serve as chairman.
On July 4 the President announced his selection of 31 U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The presentation ceremony took place on December 6 (See page 899).
Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Statement by the President Upon Issuing Order Relating to the Medal of Freedom.," February 22, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9574.