As we begin the month of August, it is our great pleasure to welcome you to
Purple Heart Month!
This month is dedicated to paying our respects to all the brave men and women wounded or killed in combat. The official Purple Heart Day is observed on the 7th day of August each year, commemorating the historic day in 1782 that General George Washington, Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army, commissioned the first Purple Heart Medal, originally called the Badge of Military Merit.
The Badge of Military Merit is a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk bound with a thin edge of silver with the word merit embroidered in silver across the face. Only 3 Badges of Military Merit were awarded. The Badge of Military Merit was redesigned and re-commissioned in 1932 by General Douglas McArthur in honor of George Washington’s bicentennial birthday. Now known as the Purple Heart Medal – it is the oldest military award, first being awarded to soldiers in World War I and still given to soldiers today.
A presidential order signed in 1942 permitted the Purple Heart Medal to be awarded to all branches of the military including the U.S. Coast Guard. It was World War II, when the qualification to receive the Purple Heart Medal changed to honor those who were wounded or killed in combat – that is why it’s recipients often call it “the medal that nobody wants”. It is unknown how many soldiers actually received it. However, we know that the soldiers listed below are some of the most awarded Purple Heart Recipients in history:
Robert T. Frederick, U.S. Army: World War II (8)
David H. Hackworth, U.S. Army: Korean War (3), Vietnam War (5)
Joe Hooper, U.S. Army, Medal of Honor: Vietnam War (8)
Robert L. Howard, U.S. Army, Medal of Honor: Vietnam War (8)
William Waugh, U.S. Army: Vietnam War (8)
It took the Purple Heart medal many years to evolve into what it is today. Today, on the reverse of the medal, “FOR MILITARY MERIT” is inscribed. The medal itself is made of brass with a gold color to it, and also contains a bust of George Washington and his coat of arms. The purple color represents the blood of all those who have made sacrifices in war, but traditionally it represent the courage of those who serve. The original color of the medal George Washington created was purple, so it was only fitting that it would be used to honor his memory in the new medal.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) was formed in 1932. It is composed exclusively of men and women who have received the Purple Heart Medal and is the only Veteran’s Service Organization whose membership is comprised solely of “combat-wounded veterans”.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, also known as the Purple Heart Foundation, was later created in 1957 as a non-profit organization. For more than 60 years, the Purple Heart Foundation has solely dedicated itself to funding programs and services that support our nation’s heroes. Donate to show your support of the Purple Heart Foundation and to help us continue to serve our nation’s veterans who have already sacrificed so much.