May 31st, 2014

American Civilian Decorations for Heroism

This is probably a stupidly obvious question for American readers, but I'm British and I'm not having much luck finding an answer.

For the purposes of my story various characters are in present-day New York during an alien attack, and are seen to act heroically either by saving lives, e.g. by rescuing someone from a collapsing building, giving first aid under fire, etc. or by fighting the aliens. My question - if the US government later wants to reward their heroism with some sort of medal or award, what would it be?

I can find this out for the police, armed forces, etc. easily enough, but all other civilian awards I've found seem to be for heroism in government or police service, in lifesaving (at sea), for civilian contractors in war zones, etc. etc. I can't seem to find anything that is for civilians who aren't government employees etc. or otherwise on duty, but just happen to be heroic when the circumstances demand it.

In the UK this wouldn't be difficult - the Queen can award e.g. an OBE, CBE, knighthood, etc. for any reason, and there are awards for heroism such as the George Cross, the highest British medal after the Victoria Cross, which are specifically intended for this sort of situation. But I'm drawing a blank on American equivalents.

searches tried: civilian awards for bravery usa, Awards and Decorations, American medals, etc.

update: It looks like a New York City Bronze Medallion seems the most likely award for civilians:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Medallion_%28New_York_City_award%29

or possibly the Presidential Citizens Medal
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Citizens_Medal