Gold Lifesaving Medal

The original Lifesaving medals, created on June 20, 1874, were not intended to be worn. The original Gold Medal had the inscription "Life Saving Medal of the First Class" at the top. An Act of Congress dated June 18, 1878 made changes to the original design, making the medal smaller and omitting the inscription. The modification to the original Medal was authorized by an Act of Congress on May 4, 1882 and was awarded to any person who rescues, or endeavors to rescue, any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other peril of the water. The rescue must take place in waters within the United States or subject to U.S. jurisdiction, or one of the parties must be a citizen of the United States, and the rescue must have been made at the risk of the rescuer's own life, with evidence of extreme and heroic daring. The modified medal was worn on a ruby red ribbon and was issued from 1882-1949. The changes which resulted in the current Gold Lifesaving Medal started with a memorandum from Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral J.F. Farley, dated March 13, 1946. Changes included reducing the size of the medal to "...present a more harmonious appearance when they are worn on the uniform with other medals...", and changing the color of the ribbon to the current gold, red, and white. The revised medal was struck in pure gold. The inscription on the lower obverse was changed to "Act of Congress August 4, 1949."

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