For their work linking illnesses of Vietnam War veterans to the herbicide and defoliant sprayed by the U.S. military in country, The American Legion recognized chemist Jeanne Mager Stellman and her husband Steven, an epidemiologist, with the Distinguished Service Medal in 2003.
One of The American Legion's great friends in Congress and a strong advocate for veterans, Stump received the Distinguished Service Medal in 2002. Though he was too ill to attend the national convention, he sent a message of gratitude via videotape.
In his tribute, National Commander Richard J. Santos said Stump "has three strong characteristics among his core values: hard work, perseverance and civil service. Throughout his life, he has demonstrated a love of God and country, and a passion for the law and our constitution."
Just months before the end of his second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Shelton made his last formal appearance before The American Legion, receiving its 2001 Distinguished Service Medal.
National Commander Ray G. Smith said that to be considered for the Distinguished Service Award, "one must demonstrate outstanding service to the nation and to the programs of The American Legion. Our recipient this year is well qualified."
An advocate for a strong national defense and a staunch protector of Old Glory, Hatch received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 2000.
Praising the Utah Republican, National Commander Alan G. Lance Sr. said Hatch believes America's national security "is best maintained by focused involvement in world affairs. This great American leader often serves as a voice employing Congress to do what is right for America. That is what he has done when it comes to protecting the American flag from physical desecration."
Fisher passed away just three months before The American Legion honored him with the Distinguished Service Medal, for his successful efforts to help the families of hospitalized veterans. National Commander Butch L. Miller called Fisher "a truly great American ... What he accomplished in his lifetime will be forever remembered in the history books but even more so in the lives that he touched."
Combat veteran, Legionnaire, longtime senator and presidential candidate, Dole received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1997, with National Commander Joseph J. Frank calling him "an avid and ardent supporter of America's veterans."
Accepting the honor, Dole said, "Whether you served in World War I or II, or in Korea, or in Vietnam or Lebanon or Grenada, Panama or the Gulf, we will never forget our responsibility to those who have worn the uniform at home or abroad in service to our great nation."
For his veterans advocacy and passage of the Montgomery GI Bill, which in 1984 expanded education benefits for the military beyond the provisions of the original GI Bill of 40 years earlier, Montgomery received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1996.
Fifty years after the crew of the Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, hastening Japan's surrender, The American Legion honored Tibbets and his crew with the Distinguished Service Medal.
"There is no doubt in my mind that many of you who are here today would not be here if it hadn't been for the courageous mission of the men of the Enola Gay," National Commander William Detweiler told convention delegates.
As founder of TV Guide, Annenberg made numerous public contributions, including a five-year, $500 million reform gift to education. For his work, he received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1994.
The former Navy Reserve commander accepted the honor by saluting "all the members of The American Legion who served their fellow citizens and our country in a masterful manner.
Two tours of duty in Vietnam and four years as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were among the accomplishments cited by The American Legion in its selection of Powell as its Distinguished Service Medal recipient in 1993.
The decorated general "served in increasingly responsible command positions throughout a distinguished military career," stated the National Executive Committee, also praising his direction of the U.S. military during the Persian Gulf War.