The Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction, is a symbol of unity which leaves an indelible mark on our society. It is granted solely on the basis of the beneficiary’s services to the French nation. The Legion of Honor brings together men and women from all walks of life, both civilians and military, in accordance with its founder, Napoléon Bonaparte’s, wish to promote universality.
Both the National Order of Merit, of lesser rank, and the Military Medal, reserved for soldiers and non-commissioned officers, are honorary distinctions which are also overseen by the Grand Chancellor. Like the Legion of Honor, they pay tribute to the beneficiary’s sustained commitment and dedication that may even entail the ultimate sacrifice.
While these decorations answer the fundamental human need for recognition, they also play a virtuous role by encouraging emulation. Those who are honored are held up as examples and serve as inspiration to their contemporaries and to future generations, for the distinction does more than highlight past achievements. It both obliges and rewards in equal measure, encouraging each honoree to be worthy of the distinction received, and commit further to serve France and its citizens.
In this manner, bonds of esteem are built and in some cases cross borders, for our national distinctions may also honor foreign nationals who have rendered valuable services to the French nation. Within this community of shared values, honor dictates an ethical code of conduct founded on self respect and consideration for others.
Army General François Lecointre
Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honor
Chancellor of the National Order of Merit