Order of Military Merit, Type II, Cross (red distinction)
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The Order of Military Merit (Orden del Mérito Militar) was instituted by Queen Isabel II/Isabella II on August 3, 1864. It was established to recognize either Spanish or foreign military personnel in recognition of outstanding and meritorious actions in time of war or peace.
The Order was originally awarded in two categories; White Distinction and Red Distinction. The decorations with White Distinction (white enamels) were awarded for distinguished services in peacetime, while the decorations with Red Distinction (red enamels) were awarded for courage and effective actions in combat.
Originally, there were four grades; IV Class Grand Cross, III Class Breast Star, II Class Breast Star, and I Class Cross. The IV Class Grand Cross was granted to Chiefs, III Class Breast Star was awarded to Generals, while II Class Breast Star and I Class Cross were granted to Officers and enlisted men, respectively. The Silver Cross was added by the First Republic (1873-1874) to reward the troops.
In 1889, the Crosses with Retired Distinction (with enameled stripes on the arms) were added. While the Crosses with Bi-color Distinction were added in 1925, in recognition of merits in time of piece with eminent risk of the life. However, this was suppressed by the Second Republic in 1931.
Throughout its lifespan, the Order's features were modified several times as consequence of the constantly political changes in Spain. The Order was suspended during the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1938), and it was re-instituted by General Franco after the end of the Civil War in 1939.
The Cross features a clasp on the 12 o'clock arm where is graved the date and name of the rewarded event; if the Order was awarded more than once, the clasps were added on the arms of the Cross.
The Order was amended last time by Juan Carlos I in 1995, and new grades and distinctions were created.
The Order is classified into Types based on the last Order's amended. Type I consists of the awards granted between 1864 and 1995, while Type II includes the awards granted after 1995.
In Type II, the Order's grades are Grand Cross Breast Star, and Cross. There are also four distinction; White, Red, Blue, and Yellow Distinctions.
The Blue Distinction is awarded for extraordinary services relating to a mandate of the United Nations or other international organizations. The Yellow Distinction is awarded for actions, or service that involve high personal risk and in cases of serious injury or death resulting from such services. The White Distinction is awarded for distinguished services in peacetime, while Red Distinction is awarded for courage and effective actions in combat.
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