Milwaukie OR, USA /— The National Defense Service Medal recognizes military members who have served in active duty during a national emergency. National emergencies are unique times in the nation’s history during which the president has special emergency powers because of a threat to the nation. Such times are associated with the need for increased military presence and action.

What Times in American History were Classified as National Emergencies?

National emergencies haven’t been declared very frequently. Rarely are we threatened on our own soil or to the extent that the president needs to declare a national emergency. Here are the times when serving would have earned a soldier a National Defense Service Medal.

The Korean War

From June 27, 1950, to July 27, 1954

President Truman declared a state of emergency to fight “Communist imperialism.” The ideals held by North Korea and its allies were considered to be a substantial threat to the American way of life. The US entered South Korea after the invasion of northern communist Korea.

UN forces, led by American General Douglas MacArthur, drove back the forces of North Korea and followed them into their own country. Unfortunately, the success of this effort prompted China to enter the conflict. Chinese advances pushed American and UN forces back into South Korea.

It was during this time, when the Amerian position in Korea seemed uncertain, that Truman declared a National Emergency. He stated the necessity of strengthening military, naval, air, and even civilian defenses. The rapid build-up of defense was necessary in case there was a threat to national security from China or Korea. Citizens like farmers, industry workers, and businessmen were called upon to produce supplies for the war effort.

The Vietnam War 

from January 1, 1961 – August 14, 1974

The US was under an extended National Emergency during the long Vietnam war. President Nixon’s actions under the act were questioned extensively, especially after the invasion of Cambodia. American response led to the War Powers Act, which aimed to reduce presidential powers during a state of emergency.

The Gulf War 

from August 2, 1990 – November 30, 1995

Soon after the tensions of the Cold War had begun to subside, Iraq invaded Kuwait, throwing America again into anxiety. America, like much of the west, was dependent on the oil in neighboring Saudi Arabia and surrounding areas. President Bush sought the permission of Congress to declare war in a powerful multi-nation move to free Kuwait. This state of emergency was some of the most power given to a president to wage war in half a century.

the War on Terrorism

from September 11, 2001- unknown

Since 2001, we have been locked in an ongoing war on terrorism. President George W. Bush declared the attack on the world trade center buildings to be an attack on the civilized world. Since then, thousands of troops have deployed in an effort to keep America and the civilized world safe from terrorists.

This war has no single adversary. Terrorism remains a threat to American soil as long as adversaries exist who are willing to use terrorism as a weapon against us. Therefore, it is uncertain when this state of emergency will lift.

The Brave Servicemen and Women who Serve During National Emergencies Deserve Recognition

The brave servicemen and women who risk their lives and spend long periods away from their families during such times deserve recognition.

When our home soil is threatened, it can be even harder to leave loved ones at home and report for duty. The soldiers dedicated to national defense during an emergency put the safety of their country not only over their own safety but their desire to stay with and protect their loved ones. What is the national defense service medal? It is a sign that you have served during one of the hardest times in American history.

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