August 7 marks the anniversary of George Washington’s creation of the “Badge for Military Merit.” On that day in 1782, General Washington gave out the following order:
The General ever desirous to cherish a virtuous ambition in his soldiers, as well as to foster and encourage every species of Military Merit, directs that whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear…over his left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth…Not only instances of unusual gallantry but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service…shall be met with a due award.
According to the National Museum of the United States Army, three noncommissioned officers were then given the new award: Sergeant Daniel Bissell for spying on British troops; Sergeant William Brown for his service at Yorktown; and Sergeant Elijah Churchill for actions during two raids against British positions on Long Island.
While those three were the only recipients of the initial award, the badge was revived 150 years later in 1932 by General Douglas MacArthur.
In 1944, the qualifications were updated to make the award solely for those wounded or killed in battle.
Some local governments, like Jacksonville, Florida, and Henderson, Nevada, held ceremonies to honor the heroic recipients of the hallowed medal. A chapter of Military Order of the Purple Heart gave $50,000 to local veterans organizations in the Tuscon, Arizona, area. A bank in Killeen, Texas, held held a luncheon as a thank-you. Purple Heart recipients also gathered at Monument Terrace in Lynchburg, Virginia, for a wreath-laying ceremony.
Several public officials also voiced their gratitude to the country’s Purple Heart recipients.
— Senator Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) August 7, 2019
Today is National Purple Heart Day — a time to honor all of the brave men and women who have been wounded or killed in combat. As the proud father of a Purple Heart recipient, please join me in thanking these American heroes. pic.twitter.com/OpATOF0ahf
— Brian Babin (@RepBrianBabin) August 7, 2019
Today, we pay a special tribute to the recipients of our nation’s oldest military award, including my dear friend Horace, a WWII Army veteran and former State Commander of the @MOPH_HQ. We'll forever be in the debt to those who sacrificed in the name of liberty. #PurpleHeartDay pic.twitter.com/YZJ09lzYjN
— Marcy Kaptur (@RepMarcyKaptur) August 7, 2019
Today is #PurpleHeartDay, and I had the honor of talking with Chuck Byers, an Army veteran, who served in the Vietnam War. Chuck received a Purple Heart during this War. Please join me in thanking Chuck for his service and sacrifice to this nation. #AZ05 pic.twitter.com/ASQFXuzLHV
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) August 7, 2019
— Joe Wilson (@RepJoeWilson) August 7, 2019
(For more from the author of “Here’s How America’s Heroes Were Honored Around the Country on Purple Heart Day 2019” please click HERE)