The American Defense Service Medal was established per Executive Order 8808, dated 28 June 1941, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and announced in War Department Bulletin 17, 1941. The criteria was announced in Department of the Army Circular 44, dated 13 February 1942.
The ribbon design was approved by the Secretary of War and the Secretary of Navy on January 7, 1942. The golden yellow color was symbolic of the golden opportunity of the youth of the United States to serve the National colors, represented by the blue, white and red pin stripes on each side.
The medal was designed by Mr. Lee Lawrie, a civilian sculptor from Easton, Maryland. The model was approved by the Commission of Fine Arts on May 5, 1942.
The foreign service clasp is worn on the suspension ribbon to indicate service outside the Continental United States. A bronze star is worn on the service ribbon in lieu of the foreign service clasp.