Honoring America’s Bravest Soldiers on Purple Heart Day

Every year, on August 7th, our nation comes together to pay tribute to the courageous souls adorned with the Purple Heart. Purple Heart Day reminds us of the indestructible spirit of American soldiers who bravely bore the weight of sacrifice for the sake of our country and our freedoms. Their unwavering dedication to defending the very essence of our nation serves as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come.

History of the Purple Heart Award

The Purple Heart was first created by General George Washington on August 7, 1782, and is considered the oldest military honor still awarded. Back then, it was called the Badge for Military Merit. This badge was awarded to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action.”

General Washington personally awarded only three soldiers with the badge, although he authorized his subordinate officers to grant the badge as appropriate.

The Badge for Military Merit was never abolished, but it was not used again until after World War I. General MacArthur led efforts to reinstate the Purple Heart in honor of the bicentennial of George Washington’s birthday. He was successful, and on February 22, 1932, the Purple Heart was created to honor people injured or killed in combat.

The Design of the Modern Purple Heart

The original design created by George Washington was a purple heart-shaped piece of silk, with Merit stitched across the face and with a narrow silver binding and edging.

The modern design kept the key elements with some adjustments. The award features a gold-colored bust of George Washington against a purple heart-shaped field. The heart is edged in gold and affixed to a purple ribbon with white edging.

Because a soldier cannot receive more than one Purple Heart, subsequent combat injuries are acknowledged with a gold leaf cluster pinned to the ribbon.

How Many People Have Been Awarded the Purple Heart?

General MacArthur received the first Purple Heart after its reinstatement for injuries incurred during World War I. Like MacArthur, any soldier injured in any conflict who could prove they received wounds that required seeing a medic was awarded the Purple Heart, including veterans from World War I, the Civil War, and the Mexican War.

In the early days of the revived Purple Heart, accurate records were not kept of who received one, leaving only estimates. The US government notes that currently, over 2 million Purple Hearts have been awarded, with over 1 million Purple Hearts awarded in World War II.

How to Honor America’s Bravest on Purple Heart Day

Purple Heart Day is a chance to reflect on the noble sacrifices many have made for this country. Some ways to honor Purple Heart recipients include:

  • Posts on Social Media 
  • Visiting with Veterans 
  • Decorating Graves of Purple Heart Recipients with Flowers 
  • Talking to Veterans in Your Community 
  • Service Projects to Help Veterans 
  • Flying the American flag

We should always be mindful of the cost of freedom and express unwavering gratitude to those who made these sacrifices. Honoring Purple Heart recipients means embracing the responsibility of preserving the liberties they fought for and standing united in upholding the values that define our nation. May their courage forever serve as a guiding light, inspiring us to live lives that embody the spirit of the freedom they defended.

Jul 20, 2023 Staff

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