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French Legion of Honor
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French Legion of Honor

The Lgion d'honneur (Legion of Honor (AmE) or Legion of Honour (ComE)) is an Order of Chivalry awarded by the President of France. First instituted by Napolon Bonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic, on May 19, 1802, it is one of the most prestigious French awards and the country's highest civilian honor. This Order replaces the previous Orders of Saint Michael, The Holy Spirit, Saint Louis, Saint Lazarus and Mount Carmel.

Contents

Description

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Legion d'honneur ribbon

The order is conferred upon men and women, either French citizens or foreigners, for outstanding achievements in military or civil life. In practice, in current usage, the order is conferred, in addition to military recipients, to many entrepreneurs, high-level civil servants, sport champions as well as other people with high connections in the executive.

According to some sources, Napoleon declared: On appelle a des hochets, je sais, on l'a dit dj. Et bien, j'ai rpondu que c'est avec des hochets que l'on mne les hommes. — "These are called [trinkets], I know, it has already been said. Well, I answered that it's with [trinkets] that you lead people." (The French word hochet means a child's rattle).

Composition

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Grand Officer's badge

The President of France is the Grand Master of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order—by convention, on the advice of the Government. Following Continental practice (unlike the British orders), the Legion of Honor has no Sovereign. Its principal officers are the Chancellor and Secretary-General.

The Legion has five classes:

  • Grand Cross - wears the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest;
  • Grand Officer - wears the badge on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest, plus the star on the right chest;
  • Commander - wears the badge on a necklet;
  • Officer - wears the badge on a ribbon with rosette on the left chest;
  • Chevalier - wears the badge on a ribbon on the left chest.

The Order has a maximum quota of 75 Commanders Grand Cross, 250 Grand Officers, 1,250 Commanders, 10,000 Officers and 113,425 (ordinary) Chevaliers. As of 2000 the actual membership was 61 Commanders Grand Cross, 321 Grand Officers, 3,626 Commanders, 22,401 Officers and 87,371 Chevaliers. Appointments of veterans of World War II, French military personnel involved in the North African Campaign and other foreign French military operations, as well as wounded soldiers, are made independently of the quota.

In 1998, all surviving veterans of World War I from any country who had fought on French soil were made Chevaliers of the Legion if they were not so already, as part of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the war's end. In December 2004, on the occasion of his 110th birthday, France's oldest surviving veteran of the war, Maurice Flocquet, was promoted to Officer.

Members convicted of severe crimes (crimes in French) are dismissed de jure from the order. Members convicted of lesser felonies (dlits in French) can be dismissed too.

Wearing the decoration of the Legion of Honor without having the right to do so is an offense.

Insignia

  • The badge of the Legion is a five-armed 'Maltese Asterisk' (for want of a better description — see Maltese Cross) in gilt (in silver for chevalier) enameled white, with an enameled laurel and oak wreath between the arms. The obverse central disc is in gilt, featuring the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend Rpublique Franaise on a blue enamel ring. The reverse central disc is also in gilt, with a set of crossed tricolore, surrounded by the Legion's motto Honneur et patrie (Honour and Fatherland) and its foundation date on a blue enamel ring. The badge is suspended by a enameled laurel and oak wreath.
  • The star (or "plaque") is worn by Grand Cross (in gilt on the left chest) and Grand Officer (in silver on the right chest) respectively; it is similar to be badge, but without enamel, and with the wreath replaced by a cluster of rays in between each arm. The central disc features the head of Marianne, surrounded by the legend Rpublique Franaise and the motto "Honneur et patrie".
  • The ribbon for the badge is plain red.

The badge or star is not worn usually, except at the time of the decoration ceremony or on a dress uniform. Instead, one normally wears the ribbon or rosette on one's suit.

Museum of the Legion of Honor

The Muse national de la Legion d'Honneur can be found at:

2, rue de la Lgion d'honneur
F-75007 Paris
Open daily (except on Mondays) 2–5 pm
RER: Muse d'Orsay (opposite the main entrance of the Muse d'Orsay)

See also

External link

fr:Légion d’honneur he:אות לגיון הכבוד hu:Francia Becsletrend nl:Lgion d'honneur ja:レジオンドヌール勲章 pl:Legia Honorowa ru:Орден Почетного легиона sl:Red legije časti

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