Created by the Continental Congress in 1780, the Fidelity Medallion is the oldest decoration of the United States military. Also known as the Andre Capture Medal, the medallion was awarded to those who participated in the capture of British Army Major John André, an accomplice to American traitor Benedict Arnold. On the face of the medallion was the inscription Fidelity, and on the reverse was the motto AMOR PATRIA VINCI, which means: The love of country conquers. Records indicate three enlisted men from the New York State militia were awarded the medallion after its initial issue. They were Private John Paulding, Private David Williams, and Private Isaac Van Wart.
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.