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The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award of the United States, alongside the Congressional Gold Medal. It is an award bestowed by decision of the president of the United States to recognize people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform. It was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, superseding the Medal of Freedom that was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to honor civilian service during World War II. Occasionally the medal award is further denoted as, "with distinction". There are no specific criteria for receiving the award with distinction; Executive Order 11085 simply specifies that the award should come in two degrees, and hence any decision to award the higher degree is entirely at the discretion of the president. In 2017, President Barack Obama stated receiving the award with distinction indicates "an additional level of veneration" in a class of individuals already held in the highest esteem. As of January 2022, 26 people have been awarded the medal with distinction, amounting to approximately 4% of all awards. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the supreme civilian decoration that can be awarded in discretion of the president, whereas its predecessor, the Medal of Freedom, was inferior in precedence to the Medal for Merit; the Medal of Freedom was awarded by any of three Cabinet secretaries, whereas the Medal for Merit was awarded by the president, as is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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