OTD: Canada announces new military honour

On today’s date in 2008, former Governor General Michaëlle Jean announced the creation of the Sacrifice Medal, which is awarded to military personnel, members of allied forces or Canadian civilians working under the authority of the Canadian Forces who suffered wounds or death caused by hostile action since Oct. 7, 2001.

“Our soldiers deserve our utmost respect and deepest gratitude,” said Jean, on Aug. 28, 2008. “This medal recognizes the valued contribution of those who sacrificed their health or their lives while serving Canada.”

ST. EDWARD’S CROWN

The Sacrifice Medal has a 37-mm diameter and is topped by a St. Edward’s Crown, symbolizing the Canadian monarch’s role as the fount of honour. The medal’s obverse depicts an effigy of the reigning sovereign and commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces, Queen Elizabeth II, who’s shown wearing a diadem of maple leaves and snowflakes surrounded by the inscription “ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA CANADA.” On the reverse, the word “SACRIFICE” is engraved alongside a depiction of the statue Mother Canada, one of the allegorical figures adorning the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. Inscribed around the medal’s edge are the recipient’s name, rank and service number, if applicable.

The medal is worn on the left side and suspended on a 31.8-mm-wide ribbon coloured with vertical stripes in a sombre red (symbolizing spilled blood), black (symbolizing grief and loss), and white (symbolizing hope and peace). What’s more, if someone who has already been awarded a Sacrifice Medal is awarded again for subsequent injuries, he or she is granted an additional silver bar with raised edges a maple leaf design.

The Sacrifice Medal was first awarded to 46 people—with 21 given posthumously—in honour of soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan. The ceremony took place at Rideau Hall.

“You have made unimaginable sacrifices in the name of justice and freedom. Your families have done the same,” said Jean on Nov. 9, 2009, when the medal was first awarded. “Many of you have shared your pain with me. Time eases the pain, but it never goes away. You are not alone. Those of you who are wounded also are not alone. We know the price you have paid. Know that Canadians share this pain and pride with you.”

STRUCK BY RCM

The design for the medal and its brightly coloured ribbon was a collaborative effort between Captain Carl Gauthier of the Directorate of Honours & Recognition, and Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, Fraser Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority. It is produced at the Royal Canadian Mint’s Ottawa facility.

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