What is the Legion of Honor?
The Highest French Distinction
The French Legion of Honor was created to reward eminent military and civil merits in the service of France. It is the highest distinction that can be conferred in France on a French citizen as well as on a foreigner.
Napoléon Bonaparte, First Consul of the First Republic, first established the French Legion of Honor in 1802.
The Legion of Honor is divided into fives degrees.
The degrees are divided as follow:
- Three ranks: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander)
- Two dignities: Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross)
Since its inception, the medal consists of a five-armed “Maltese Asterisk” enameled in white, joined with branches of laurel and oak.
- At the center of the star, there is a medallion representing:
- In the front side, the symbol of the Republic with the inscription “Républiquefrançaise”
on the other side, a flag and a banner intertwining one another with the circular inscription “Honneur et patrie”
The ribbon is in red moiré silk.
The President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order—by convention, on the advice of the Government. Its principal officers are the Chancellor and Secretary-General.
A chancery and a council of the order manage the order. They are located in Paris:
1, rue de Solférino
In the United States, the American Society of the French Legion of Honor, Inc., that gathers all the recipients of the award, is presided by
PO Box 983
Harriman, NY 10926
Phone: +1 (212) 439-0205
Famous French historical personalities awarded:
Claude Berthollet (chimiste), Honoré de Balzac, Stendhal, Victor Hugo, François-René de Chateaubriand, Théophile Gaultier, Alfred de Musset, Alexandre Dumas, Hector Berlioz, Georges Cuvier, Eugène Delacroix.
American personalities awarded:
Thomas A. Edison (Commander in 1889), Alexander Graham Bell (Officer in 1881), Simon Newcomb (Officer in 1896), John Singer Sargent (Knight in 1889).