It all began with General George Washington, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army on August 7th, 1782. He was responsible for creating the “Badge for Military Merit” for patriotism.
The badge originally consisted of a heart-shaped piece of silk with a narrow edge of silver. Across the face the word Merit was stitched in silver.
Soldiers of the Revolutionary War were awarded this decoration honoring them for “singularly meritorious action.” Only three soldiers were known to have been awarded this during the Revolutionary War.
Military Merit Badge to Purple Heart Award
This honor was created with the plan to be a permanent award. It was pretty much forgotten until the 1900’s. General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing requested an award for merit in 1918. It took until 1932 before the Purple Heart award was created in celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Washington and his ideals.
The order was by the President of the United States. The order declared that the Purple Heart award established in 1782 by Washington “is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.”
So the tradition began in Temple Hill, New Windsor NY, which was the final encampment of the Continental Army during the winter of 1782-1783. Veterans who have earned the Purple Heart Award were honored.
Over the years the criteria for being awarded the Purple Heart has gone through various changes. In the beginning it was awarded to Army and Army Air Corps members directly and could not be awarded posthumously to next of kin.
With Pearl Harbor Came Posthumous Recognition
It wasn’t until 1942 that President Franklin Roosevelt signed the executive order which allowed the Navy to award the Purple Heart to their personnel including Sailors, Marines and members of the Coast Guard.
This order additionally allowed the Purple Heart to be made available posthumously for any member of the military that was killed either on or after December 7, 1941.
The creation of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in 1942 awarded the Purple Heart for meritorious service. Being wounded was only one portion of consideration for demonstrating patriotism.
According to the regulation the Purple Heart is now awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who “while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917 has been wounded, killed, or has died after being wounded.”
I don’t know about you, but a medal just doesn’t seem to be enough for paying the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom and Liberty.
Take a moment and visit our Wall of Heroes and pay your respects to some of the patriotic heroes we’ve been honored to help keep their sacrifice and memory alive…