King George VI bestowed the George Cross on Malta to "give witness to the valor and dedication of its people" during the islands' tremendous siege at the start of WWII. The cross is held by the British Monarchy at Windsor Castle.
Malta became a republic in 1974, but the monarch remains head of state with limited powers. She can sign laws and open debates, but cannot veto them. Her role is largely symbolic as Maltese voters decide who will become their government by electing members to Congress.
The George Cross was created by King George V in 1936 to honor those who had saved lives during the Welsh mining disasters of that year. Before it was instituted, miners rescued people trapped underground by placing sheets of metal across shafts to create cages in which they could be safely lifted out. The first person to be so honored was William Armstrong, one of the 13 miners killed in an accident at Penrhyn Quarry in Anglesey. He had gone into the mine alone at night because there were no other workers available, to ensure that nothing dangerous happened while they were away from safety drills and equipment.
There are two categories of the George Cross: civil and military. Civilians who have shown courage and heroism are eligible for the military version of the award; soldiers for the civilian version.
The George Cross is a British civilian and military award established in 1940 by King George VI for "acts of extraordinary heroism or outstanding courage under grave danger." The award, which can be presented posthumously, is primarily bestowed on civilians, but it can also be bestowed on military personnel...
The following people have been awarded the George Cross:
Charles Green, 1st Baron Green of Dormston (1940)
John Glanfield (1941)
William Hennis (1945)
Donald Anderson (1946)
Frederick William Batey (1947)
Malcolm McKeown (1948)
Ronald Henry Taylor (1949)
Arthur Thomas (1950)
Geoffrey Hillyard Troughton (1951)
Jack Singleton (1952)
Peter Davis (1953)
Frank O'Connor (1954)
Edward John Hart (1955)
Denis Charles Smith (1956)
Thomas James Farrer (1957)
The Maltese Cross, which was introduced to Malta by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem upon seizing possession of the islands in 1530, has become an integral element of Malta's history and tradition, as well as a much-loved symbol among the Maltese.
The cross is found on all official documents issued by the government and appears on the national flag. It also forms the basis of many decorative arts and crafts produced in Malta.
For example, the traditional Maltese door knocker features a carved wooden head with a metal socket housing a small electric bell. This is attached to a stick shaped like a Maltese cross.
Also, during Caravaggio's time in Malta (1599-1606), he painted a series of dramatic pictures featuring Christ with his crucifixion scene. These paintings are now kept in several churches across Malta. One of these is the Chiesa del Purgatorio in Valletta where you can see one of the paintings today!
Finally, the Maltese cross is used as an emblem on many businesses in Malta. For example, the headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller in Mdina is called La Valletta because it was built around a large Maltese cross yard. Also, some hotels in Malta display their logo on a blue and white Maltese cross sign.
The Maltese flag has the George Cross. According to legend, the Maltese flag was inspired by Count Roger of Sicily, whose banner was a chequered white and red flag. The Knights of Malta, who controlled the island from 1530 to 1798, also used the colors of the flag. Their symbol was a crimson flag with a white Maltese cross on it.
In World War II, the George Cross was awarded to protectors of Malta for their actions during the invasion. Today, the medal remains the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a person by the government of Malta.
George Cross recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "GC". The first George Cross was awarded in 1940 to William Joseph Trimmingham for his actions during the evacuation of Malta. The second recipient was Charles John Goater, who received the cross for saving two Italian children near Bologna in 1945. Both men died before they could receive the award themselves. In 2001, the third George Cross was given to Harry Fellows, who saved five people at Sliema beach in Malta. He too died before he could accept his award.
Malta became part of Italy in 1867, but it fought alongside England against the Axis powers in World War II. After the war, Britain held a conference at which participants decided that individuals performing acts of bravery should be honored with medals. The first George Cross was awarded in 1940, and since then three more have been granted.
The Maltese cross is still the symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is still operating as an international medical and humanitarian assistance organization today. The cross represents eight beatitudes in its modern teachings (or "blessings"). When carried on a person's chest, it is believed to bring good luck.
The order was founded in 1048 by Grand Master Robert de Nantes for the purpose of fighting disease and healing injury during times of war. It became one of the largest military orders in Europe with territories in both Asia and Africa. However, due to financial problems and internal conflicts, they were forced to abandon their possessions in 1834. Today, the order operates primarily through its hospital network and educational institutions.
The Maltese cross has been used as a symbol of other organizations too. For example, the cross is found on the cap badge of members of the British Royal Marines. It can also be seen on some flags of Malta, where it forms the basis of the national flag.
In conclusion, the Maltese cross is an important symbol of Malta because it is unique and represents life after death.