National Order of Merit, Type I, Grand Cross
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The National Order of Merit (Orden Nacional del Mérito) was originally instituted on April 8, 1865. It was founded shortly after Paraguay declared war against Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, an engagement known as the Triple Alliance War (1864-1870).
The Order was a military award mainly conferred for courage and bravery in the battle field upon those Paraguayan Officers who participated in this engagement. Presumably, the Order had five grades, i.e., Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, and Knight.
On June 23, 1939 the Order was re-instituted creating new statutes. The new Order was awarded to military personnel, either nationals or foreigners, in recognition of extraordinary services to the nation. Also, the grades were limited to 50 members for the Grand Cross, 150 for the Grand Officer, 200 for the Commander, 250 for the Officer, and 350 for the Knight.
The Order was amended on September 7, 1956. The Collar and Extraordinary Grand Cross were added to the Order, and the limitation numbers were abolished. The Order was also extended to civilians, either nationals or foreigners. The date on the reverse inscription was also modified.
This Order is currently awarded with seven grades by the Paraguayan government to nationals or foreigners in recognition of prominent military and civil services rendered to the country. It is the highest and oldest Paraguayan Order.
In MB, the Order is classified into types according with the modifications of its statutes. Type I includes the awards conferred before 1939. Type II includes the awards between 1939 and 1956. Type III consists of the awards from 1956 to present.
In Type I, the president personally selected who was to receive the medal and in which grade. Presumably, consisting of five grades, some resources claim that the Order only had one.
The Grand Cross was awarded exclusively to the President of Paraguay and the head of the church in the country.
According to some sources, the Type I Order was never produced due to presidential decree and there is no evidence of surviving examples.
It is not clear whether the Order was unofficially rescinded after the end of the Triple Alliance War or it had continued to be awarded. Some resources claim it was awarded until 1905.
There is limited information regarding this item.
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