President Kennedy's Executive Order 11085: Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Kennedy's Executive Order 11085 (February 22, 1963) re-established the Medal of Freedom as the Presidential Medal of Freedom. For more information please contact Kennedy.Library@nara.gov or 617.514.1629. 

Symbolism of the Design

For years the white star has been displayed throughout the world as the identifying emblem of United States elements in the defense of freedom. It is recognized universally as a symbol of our selfless determination to maintain the freedom and democracy of mankind.

The eagles among the points of the star are of a design of the early Federal period of the United States, and symbolize the supporting strengths and convictions of our own early struggle for freedom.

The constellation of thirteen stars in a field of blue is from the Glory crest of the Coat of Arms of the United States, representing high idealism.

The oak wreath depicts the accolade aspect of the decoration and also emphasizes the quality of strength.

The white stars on the blue background of the ribbon allude to the united states themselves. The multiple, white, five-pointed stars in the blue field of the canton of our flag long have held a conspicuous place as symbols of the states of our Union.

The colors of blue, white, gold and silver are associated with the President's seal and flag.

Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 6 December 1963

Thirty one individuals were awarded the medal on December 6, 1963 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson:

Miss Marian Anderson 
Mr. Pablo Casals 
Miss Genevieve Caulfield 
Dr. John F. Enders 
Mr. Karl Holton 
Mr. Robert J. Kiphuth 
Mr. Edwin H. Land 
Governor Herbert H. Lehman (in absentia) 
Mr. J. Clifford MacDonald (Mrs. MacDonald received the award on behalf of her deceased husband) 
Mr. George Meany 
Professor Alexander Meiklejohn 
Mr. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 
Mr. Clarence B. Randall 
Mr. Rudolf Serkin 
Mr. Edward Steichen 
Professor George W. Taylor 
Dr. Alan T. Waterman 
Mr. Mark S. Watson 
Mrs. Annie D. Wauneka 
Mr. E.B. White 
Mr. Edmund Wilson 
Mr. Thornton Wilder 
Mr. Andrew Wyeth

Those who received the award with Special Distinction:

Mr. Ellsworth Bunker 
Dr. Ralph J. Bunche 
Dr. James B. Conant 
Governor Luis Munoz Marin 
Mr. Robert A. Lovett 
Mr. Jean Monnet 
Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter 
Mr. John J. McCloy

President Johnson conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously on His Holiness, Pope John XXIII. He also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.