The French National Order of Merit

« En vertu des pouvoirs qui me sont conférés, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons chevalier (officier ou commandeur) de l’Ordre National du Mérite. ».

Photo: General de Gaulle presenting the insignia of the National Order of Merit to the Innsbruck Olympic medalists at the Elysee Palace on June 25, 1964 © Archives nationales

The French National Order of Merit (FOM) was created on December 3rd, 1963, by General Charles de Gaulle, then President of the French Republic. It is awarded to men and women for distinguished merits rendered to the French Republic over the course of a career of at least 10< years for the grade of chevalier. It admits foreign nationals based on the nature of their services or connections to the French Republic.

To become an Officier, one must have demonstrated new distinguished merits for a minimum period of 5 years, and to become a Commandeur one must have demonstrated new distinguished merits for another minimum period of 3 years. To be elevated to the dignities of Grand Officier and Grand Croix, 3 more years of services must be demonstrated each time.

Prior to wearing the decoration, the recipient must be welcomed in the Order by a member holding at least the same grade than the one he or she is about to receive.

The mandatory formula required for the presentation is the following:
« En vertu des pouvoirs qui me sont conférés, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons chevalier (officier ou commandeur) de l’Ordre National du Mérite. », after which the new recipient is given an accolade. In the case of the elevation of someone to the dignity of Grand Officier or Grand Croix, the President of the French Republic personally conducts the ceremony.

The purpose of ASFOM

The American Society of the French Order of Merit (ASFOM) was created on July 14, 1996, to provide a vehicle of contact among and between recipients of the Order residing in the United States and to diffuse information to the public as to the meaning and history of the Order, and of French culture and history in general. The Order seeks to promote appreciation of both French culture in the United States and American culture in France, and to do all to strengthen the traditional friendship that exists between the people of the United States and France.

Photo: The Palais de la Légion d’honneur (French for “Palace of the Legion of Honor”) is a historic building on the Left Bank of the River Seine in Paris, France.

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