Order of Merit, Grand Cross
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The Order of Merit (Ordem do Mérito) was established as the Order of Education and Benevolence by the republican government in 1927. It was founded to distinguish the services performed by people or corporations in order to further the instruction in the country. In 1929, it was split into two distinct orders, the Order of Public Instruction and the Order of Benevolence.
The Order of Benevolence was renamed the Order of Merit in 1976 and is currently conferred upon Portuguese citizens in recognition of meritorious service related to social causes, public assistance, and any issue that has benefited the Portuguese community. It can also by confer upon foreign citizens, localities and institutions.
Currently, the grades are Grand Cross (GCM), Grand Officer (GOM), Commander (ComM), Officer (OM), Medal (MedM), and Honorary Member (MHM). These may be awarded to ambassadors, business-people, military personnel, athletes, musicians, among others.
The decorations are given by the President of the Portuguese Republic in his role as the Grand-Master. It can be granted during life or posthumously.
There are two versions of the Grand Cross that differ in inscription. Both have an obverse inscription that translates to “Well Deserved,” and a reverse inscription that translates to “Portuguese Republic,” but they differ in spelling.
The Grand Cross is worn on a sash that is 100mm wide for men and 60mm wide for women.
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