The Fidelity Medallion is the oldest decoration of the United States military and was created by act of the Continental Congress in 1780. Also known as the "Andre Capture Medal", the Fidelity Medallion was awarded to those soldiers who participated in the capture of Major John André, of the British army, who had been the contact to Benedict Arnold and had helped organize his defection.
Historical records indicate that three soldiers were awarded the Fidelity Medallion after its first issuance, all from the New York State Militia. The names of the soldiers were Private John Paulding, Private David Williams, and Private Isaac Van Wart.
On the face of the medallion was the inscription “Fidelity”, and on the reverse was the motto “Amor patriae vincit”, which means: “The love of country conquers.”
The Fidelity Medallion was never again bestowed and it quickly became regarded as a commemorative decoration. For this reason, the Badge of Military Merit is generally considered the first decoration of the U.S. military, even though it was created two years after the Fidelity Medallion, in 1782.
*Historical Collection of New York, by John W. Barber and Henry Howe, 1841.