This large medal was part of the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to NASA Administrator James E. Webb by President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 9, 1968. Established in 1945, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest national honor bestowed upon a civilian. It is awarded for exceptionally meritorious contributions to the national security, world peace, cultural or other exceptionally significant or private endeavors.
James Webb received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work as Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from February 1961 until October 1968, during which time the Mercury and Gemini human spaceflight programs were successfully completed and the planning, development, and testing for the successful Apollo program to land human beings on the Moon was accomplished in large part. In 1984, Webb donated to the National Collection the medal, accompanied by the matching miniature medal, ribbon, and lapel pin in a storage box.