August 7 is National Purple Heart Day – First observed in 2014, this is a day for Americans to remember and honor the brave men and women who were either wounded on the battlefield or made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.
While Purple Heart Day is not a Federal holiday, on which businesses and government offices are closed, there are many ways to honor Purple Heart recipients even though it’s a work day. Major League Baseball teams recognize local Purple Heart recipients during games on August 7. Regional government offices pause to recognize the service and sacrifice of their local heroes. And veteran and military organizations hold remembrance meetings for fallen heroes and special events to thank soldiers, veterans, and Purple Heart recipients.
What Makes the History of the Purple Heart Unique?
The Purple Heart was one of the first military medals given to all military ranks, including enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers. It is the oldest military award still presented to American service members today.
According to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, more than 1.8 million Purple Heart medals have been presented to service members since the award was created.
On August 7, 1782, then General George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit to honor enlisted soldiers who had performed a “singularly meritorious action.”
It is believed that three awards, “a figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding,” were presented by General Washington. Despite its importance at the time, the Badge of Military Merit was not a permanent fixture among military awards and decorations.
In 1932, General Douglas MacArthur refreshed and renamed the award the Purple Heart, incorporating the likeness of George Washington while memorializing its original representation and the bicentennial of Washington’s birthday.
Take time to honor Purple Heart recipients in your community. Paying homage can be as simple as flying an American flag proudly at your home or business or listening to a soldier or veteran’s stories about their service.
USBA is a not-for-profit Association that provides group life insurance, health insurance supplements, and other products and services to military personnel, Federal employees, National Guard and Reserve members, Veterans and their families.