Gen. David Petraeus

2009, Gen. David Petraeus

For his leadership as commander of Multi-National Force Iraq in 2007 and 2008, Petraeus received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 2009.

Presenting the award, National Commander David K. Rehbein praised Petraeus for the success of the "surge" strategy. "He would be the first to tell you that the credit for the success in Iraq belongs to those who served and those who are still serving there," he told Legionnaires.

President George W. Bush

2008, President George W. Bush

For combating terrorism and resolving to keep America strong in the face of global threats, the nation's 43rd commander in chief received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 2008.

Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer

2007, Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer

In 2007, The American Legion awarded Kizer the Distinguished Service Medal, recognizing him as the chief architect and driving force behind the radical transformation of VA health care between 1994 and 1999.

A former Navy diver and member of Post 38 in Rockland, Calif., Kizer "truly understands the concept of veterans helping veterans," National Commander Paul Morin said.

Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady

2006, Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady

For his vision and leadership in the Citizens Flag Alliance's campaign to return to the American people the right to protect their flag, Brady received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 2006.

"Our nation is secure from any external threat," Brady told convention delegates. "The true threat is internal. And it comes from an elite of counterfeit patriots who ... were raised on a different playing field than we were. They never saw a battlefield. They will never sacrifice life or limb for America. In fact, they don't believe in sacrifice."

Gen. Richard B. Myers

2005, Gen. Richard B. Myers

Praised by National Commander Thomas P. Cadmus for "his vision and leadership in today's defense efforts and the pursuit of peace," Myers - who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005 - received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 2005.

Drs. Jeanne Mager Stellman and Steven Stellman

2003, Drs. Jeanne Mager Stellman and Steven Stellman

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.

Rep. Bob Stump

2002, Rep. Bob Stump

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."

Gen. Henry H. Shelton

2001, Gen. Henry H. Shelton

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."

Sen. Orrin Hatch

2000, Sen. Orrin Hatch

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."

Zachary Fisher

1999, Zachary Fisher

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."