Military Decoration, I Class Cross (for Bravery, 1919-1934)
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The Military Decoration was created on December 23, 1873, despite the fact that it had been legally instituted years earlier on October 14, 1841. It was originally awarded in a single-grade, but a second grade was later added on May 11, 1900.
It is awarded to Non-Commissioned Officers and enlisted men of the Belgian Armed Forces in recognition of long service, and to military personnel of all ranks in recognition of an act of bravery. The II Class Decoration is awarded for 10 years of military service, and the I Class Decoration is awarded for 15 years of service. The long service decoration is awarded on a tricolour striped ribbon, while the decoration for bravery is awarded on a red ribbon edged in tricolour stripes. The I Class Decoration is distinguished in both cases by a gold chevron clasp.
There are four different versions of the I Class Decoration which vary according to the reverse medallion. The first version was awarded from 1873-1919 and has the cypher of Leopold II, the second version was awarded from 1919-1934 and has the cypher of Albert I, the third version was awarded from 1934-1952 and has the cypher of Leopold III, and the fourth version has a Belgian lion in place of a royal cypher.
The obverse inscription translates to "Strength in Unity." It appeared in French prior to 1952 and has since appeared in French and Dutch. From 1873-1952 the reverse had an inscription that translates to “Army, Merit, Long Service," but now appears without any inscription.
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