Narendra Modi awarded Legion of Merit: Military honour is first US medal to be awarded to citizens of other countries

The Legion of Merit was instituted in 1942 by former United States president Franklin D Roosevelt,

FP Staff December 22, 2020 15:59:05 IST
Narendra Modi awarded Legion of Merit: Military honour is first US medal to be awarded to citizens of other countries

File image of Narendra Modi. PTI

The Legion of Merit, awarded by United States president Donald Trump to Narendra Modi on Monday, is the latest among a host of international honours bestowed on the prime minister since 2014.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India's Ambassador to the US, accepted the award on behalf of the prime minister from National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien at the White House.

The award was also presented to Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison

President Trump "awarded the Legion of Merit to Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe for his leadership and vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific," O'Brien said.

Trump awarded the Legion of Merit to Australian prime minister Morrison for his leadership in addressing global challenges and promoting collective security, O’Brien tweeted.

Together, India, the US, Australia and Japan constitute the 'Quad' group of countries, which has been seen as a counter to Chinese dominance in the Indo-Pacific region.

What is the Legion of Merit?

The Legion of Merit was instituted in 1942 by former US president Franklin D Roosevelt, as noted in an article in The Hindu.

The Legion of Merit is the only US military decoration that has distinct ranks, and the first US medal to be awarded to citizens of other nations, as mentioned in an article in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Although US military personnel qualify only for the lowest rank of legionnaire, any foreign citizen is eligible for the three higher ranks of officer, commander, and chief commander. These classifications are usually conferred upon foreign officials of high rank or on foreign military advisers.

As per a press release by Ministry of External Affairs: "The Legion of Merit, in the highest degree of the Chief Commander, is a prestigious award conferred by the President of the United States, typically upon Heads of State or Heads of Government of other countries."

"The award is in recognition of the Prime Minister’s steadfast leadership and vision for India's emergence as a global power, and exemplary contribution made by him for the advancement of the India-United States strategic partnership and promoting global peace and prosperity,” the MEA further stated.

Previous recipients

Previous recipients of the award include Field Marshal KM Cariappa, who received the Legion of Merit (Degree: Chief Commander) in 1950.

Trump on 18 September awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, to Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait.

Before that, the medal was last awarded in 1991, according to Hindustan Times.

With inputs from PTI

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