Introduction to the Order of the Liberation
The Order of the Liberation is France's second national order after the Legion of Honor, and was instituted by General De Gaulle, Leader of the "Français Libres" - or Free French People - with his edict No. 7, signed in Brazzaville on November 16th, 1940. Admission to the Order is meant to "reward individuals, military and civil organizations for outstanding service in the effort to procure the liberation of France and the French Empire."
The Order has only one rank. Its members hold the title of Companions of the Liberation, and are generally referred to as French Resistance fighters. As the founder of the Order, General De Gaulle is the only person entitled to hold the title of Grand Master.
The Order's insignia is the Cross of the Liberation. It consists of a rectangular bronze shield emblazoned with a two-edged sword and a superimposed Cross of Lorraine, and has the following motto on the back: "PATRIAM SERVANDO VICTORIAM TULIT" ("By serving his country, he has brought us Victory"). The decoration's ribbon, which binds black, for mourning or sorrow, with green, for hope, symbolizes France's situation in 1940.
1 059 crosses were awarded between the day the Order was created and the suspension of awards (January 23rd, 1946):
1 036 were awarded to individuals
18 to units of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy
5 crosses were awarded to French communities: Nantes, Grenoble, Paris, Vassieux-en-Vercors and Ile de Sein.