Much Ado About Medals Act V: Denouement

By Kyle Perkins

Herbert Hoover died at the age of 90 on October 20, 1964. More than half of those 90 years were spent leading public service efforts. His humanitarian endeavors had such a lasting global impact, they earned the former President recognition from organizations even after his death. This brings us to my final medal.

I will admit that I struggled deciding on how to bring my story to a close. Do I use something that pertains to his early life? Years at Commerce? The Presidency? Or some random medal that is just simply awesome to look at?

I thought it would be better to end with something that encompassed most of the 90 years, like a lifetime achievement award. Even though I am in the 1960s with my story, I had to backtrack his story all the way to 1930 to find just the right medal.

I wanted my own past experiences and respect for The Chief to influence my choice, but still be truthful and fair to who he was with as little bias as possible. My years in the Army led me to think about Hoover’s interactions with the military, and the creation of the Veterans Administration. The care and treatment of American veterans has been a vital subject since our founding. Until 1930, the administration of services for veterans was a hodgepodge of programs spread among three separate agencies. Hoover took it upon himself to consolidate the three existing agencies into one entity, and on July 21, 1930, the Veterans Administration was born with the signing of Executive Order 5398.

Now, if you ask ten contemporary veterans for their opinions on the VA, you’ll most likely get ten different answers, but the overall quality of care from consolidation and streamlining of these services compared to what they were prior to 1930 is undeniable. Because of this, Hoover was beloved by veterans, and remained so for the rest of his life. So much so, that in 1965 the American Legion leadership voted to posthumously award him with their Distinguished Service Medal for his life’s work. I would say this is a great accomplishment for someone who was raised with Quaker principles and never served in the military.

As for the presentation of the medal, Herbert Jr. accepted on behalf of his father at the 48th National Convention of the American Legion in Washington D.C. on August 30, 1966. The medal is gold and attached to a blue and green ribbon with a gold bar pin and came with a small matching chevron bar adorned with a gold star. The medal depicts the American Legion logo, which is a five-pointed star on blue enamel, surrounded by a wheat motif with the initials US in the center. The bar pin is inscribed with the text DISTINGUISHED SERVICE. On the back of the medal is an inscription, HERBERT CLARK HOOVER / POSTHUMOUSLY / 1965.

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