Legion of Honor
The Order of the Legion of Honor (fr. Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur) is a French national order (organization) established by Napoleon Bonaparte on May 19, 1802, following the example of knightly orders. According to the code of the Legion of Honor and the military medal, this honorary organization has the status and rights of a legal entity. Belonging to the order is the highest distinction, honor and official recognition of special merits in France. Admission to the order is carried out for outstanding military or civilian merit by the President of the French Republic, who is ex officio the Grand Master (Grand maître) of the order. The Legion of Honor thus plays the role of one of the most important institutions of the French state and symbols of the republic. With few exceptions, the order is not admitted posthumously. According to General De Gaulle, "The Legion of Honor is a community of the elite of the living."
History of the Order
The idea of creating the Order of the Legion of Honor belongs to Napoleon Bonaparte when he was the First Consul of the French Republic.
After the French Revolution of 1789-1794, all monarchical privileges, honors and awards were abolished. However, wars and state reorganization required the mobilization of the morale of the population and the army. Military leaders at the first stage, if necessary, celebrated military exploits and valor, mainly by presenting award weapons. But the need to introduce new forms of reward was in the air.
Since the restoration of the old monarchical forms of distinction was then completely impossible, Napoleon turned to ancient experience - the ancient Roman Empire and the Republic and knightly orders. But the idea of creating new privileged organizations and insignia was met with hostility, because it did not correspond to the basic principle of the formal equality of citizens, expressed in the republican slogan "Freedom, Equality, Fraternity."
Napoleon and his associates had to work hard to put into practice the project of creating the Order of the Legion of Honor. That is why it was proposed not as an award, but as an organizational association of the best of the best, with an ideological link to knightly orders and ancient art.