The Order of the Cross of the Eagle (Estonian: Kotkaristi teenetemärk), instituted in 1928, was created as a token of recognition by the Estonian Defence League (EDL - Estonia’s voluntary paramilitary defence organisation), but effectively became a five-class military order of the State. Its badge is a Maltese cross with the emblem of the Defence League in the centre.
At the beginning of the 1920s, this emblem was considered as a possible design for the Estonian coat of arms. It depicts the Northern Eagle, which, according to the national epic ‘Kalevipoeg,’ carried Kalev, the forefather of Estonian people, to native shores in mythic times. Services relating directly to combat (valour in battle but also police work) were distinguished by adding swords to the decoration.