A Brief History of Purple Heart Day

By Sean Lynch, OMS II, President of SAMOPS

The roots of the Purple Heart extend back to the Revolutionary War, when it was formerly known as the Badge of Military Merit and was awarded by George Washington to only three Revolutionary War soldiers. The award was not considered again until after World War I. On February 22, 1932, the 200th birthday of George Washington, the award was resurrected in its current form. Members of the Armed Forces of the United States, on or after April 5, 1917, are eligible to receive the Purple Heart if they have been wounded, killed, or may die of wounds incurred under specific service-related circumstances. Including retroactive awards for service members in WWI, an estimated total of 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded to those who have suffered physical harm in defense of the United States of America.

As America’s oldest military award, the Purple Heart serves to recognize the significance of personal sacrifice for the security of our Nation and its people. Purple Heart recipients have come from all backgrounds, but they all hold in common that they made a sacrifice for something greater than themselves. To all who serve, to those who have lost their lives, and to those who carry scars, seen or unseen, as a reminder of your sacrifice in the line of duty, we are eternally grateful.

A more complete history of the Purple Heart as well as a registry of documented recipients may be found at https://www.thepurpleheart.com/.

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