That Medal Sure Looks Impressive
When you hear "Congressional Medal of Distinction winner" in the US, you would be impressed, right? Our congress doesn't hand out medal every other day. Medal of Honor is the hardest... You practically *have* to die to get one (very few living recipients). Medal of Distinction can't be THAT hard, but should still be sufficiently impressive, right?
Unfortunately, you would be completely wrong.
First of all, the medal wasn't even given out by the US Congress.
Second, the medal is not merit-based (i.e. you don't need to do something special to earn it)
Finally, people are parlaying the medal as if they mean something, because they do not know what you are about to find out: the truth.
First, a clarification
First of all, the US Congress do not give out that many medals,
There are the Congressional Gold and Silver Medals, but that has nothing to do with this medal. Those are given out to people with significant contributions to the world or the United States and authorized by US Congress.
There is the Congressional Medal of Honor, the most important honor available in US government. In fact, any one wearing one of these is entitled to salute from EVERYBODY in the military, including the commander-in-chief.
These medals are lumped into one or mixed up by people who don't know what they're talking about. Just take a look at a fellow hub to the right... FACT: Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal, not Congressional Medal of Honor.
Thus, learn the difference.
Not from Congress
Look at that picture again. Did you notice it says NRCC as the bottom?
NRCC = National Republican Congressional Committee (link to Wikipedia)
NRCC is the fund-raising committee for the Republican Party for the House of Representatives in US Congress. In other words, this is a PRIVATE ORGANIZATION.
Furthermore, the medal is actually awarded by a subsection of the committee, known as the "business advisory council", which specialized in soliciting donations from businesses.
Finally... there is no mention of such an award in the NRCC website NRCC.org.
Clearly, this award is not what it appears to be.
Not Merit-Based Award
The criteria for getting a "Congressional Medal of Distinction" actually is very simple: contribute quite a bit of money to the Republican Party every year. As a token of appreciation, you'll get this medal. (Oh, and you may get invited to a major dinner when a Republican president is in the Oval office, or otherwise see some other Republican big shots, and get to see them as close at across the room.)
In fact, in 2008, the NRCC chairman had to write a letter to debunk the rumor that the medal is merit-based (i.e. you've "earned it") when a certain recipient implied that the award is merit-based.
Recent news reports have implied that the Congressional Medal of Distinction is a merit-based award based on your background, which is not the case. The Medal of Distinction is being given to you because of your continued support of the Republican Party and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
-- cited from
http://www.thenextright.com/matt-hurley/the-nrcc-and-the-congressional-medal-of-distinction (dead link)
Fake Medal Sounds Impressive but Means Nothing
As the previous facts have shown, the "Congressional Medal of Distinction" is not merit-based, and is not from US Congress. Thus, its worthiness is practically zero. It is misnamed.
However, this does not prevent at least 68 people from putting it in their self-description on LinkedIn, most with verbiage like "for contribution to business leadership", implying it is merit-based when it is not.
Perhaps they are under the impression that it is, but you know better now.
Filipino Congressional Medal of Distinction
The Filipino Congress also have a "Congressional Medal of Distinction", and this one really is given by the Congress, and is only given to important and distinctive people. One of the recent recipients of the Filipino Congressional Medal of Distinction is Manny "The Pacman" Pacqiao, professional boxer AND congressman.
What are the "real" Congressional medals?
The two medals given by US Congress for real civilian achievements are Congressional Gold Medal, and Congressional Silver Medal. Both are only given to people with real achievements, such as research, exploration, but also some significant cultural and economic achievements as well.
The Congressional Gold Medal in fact is a very special medal. Each one is designed separately. There are no repeated designs. Each one is specific to the recipient and the event(s) that lead to the award. Recent recipients include the professional golf legend Arnold Palmer, and the Nisei units 100th Battalion and 442 Regimental Combat Team (World War II)
Just to get confusing, there is a separate "Congressional Award" organization that is backed by US Congress (but is technically a non-profit organization) to give awards to youths with Gold, Silver, or Bronze Certificates and separate Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards for public service.
I hope you have learned not to take things at face value.
When you see something impressive, be a skeptic. Research it. Often, you may find that things are not what they seem to be.