Lifesaving Medal, (in silver, 1878-1882)
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The Lifesaving Medal was established by the Department of Treasury by Act of Congress on June 20, 1874. The Lifesaving Medal is awarded by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Coast Guard to any military or civilian personnel who endangers their lives in saving or attempting to save the life of another from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils of waters within the jurisdiction of the United States. If the act occurs outside American waters, one or the other of the parties must be a citizen of the United States, or the act must have taken place from a United States vessel or aircraft.
The Lifesaving Medal is awarded in 2 grades. The Silver Lifesaving Medal is awarded in recognition of rescues or attempted rescues where the risk of personal life is lower than that which is required to merit the Gold Lifesaving Medal, but which still involves extraordinary effort to still merit recognition. It is estimated that 1 900 Silver Medals have been issued to date.
Silver clasps may be worn on the ribbon to denote subsequent awards of the Silver Medal. The silver clasps may be inscribed with either "Second Service Act of Congress May 4th 1882" or "Second Service Act of Congress August 4th 1949" on the obverse, and are engraved with the recipient's name, date of the recognized act, and details of the award on the reverse.
There are multiple versions of the Silver Medal. The first version was issued in 1874 as a table medal. A second table medal was introduced in 1878 which features a different obverse inscription. In 1882, a third version worn from a suspension ribbon was instituted. The third version was issued with a light blue suspension ribbon until 1949 and thereafter was issued with a distinct ribbon pattern for a short period. Following 1949, a fourth version was established which featured the change in the date inscription from "June 20, 1874" to "August 4, 1949."
There may be additional versions of the Medal.
It is uncertain if the reverse was officially engraved with the recipient's details.
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