“The General ever desirous to cherish 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 on his facings over the left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth, or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding. Not only instances of unusual gallantry, but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way shall meet with a due reward”.
The above is an extract of General Washington’s instructions for the Badge of Military Merit, now known as the Purple Heart, one of the most important military decorations in America. The medal is awarded by the President to those who had been wounded or killed in service. It was installed by the first time by General George Washington on this day in 1782, from his Newburgh, New York headquarters.
On that time, the decoration was called Badge for Military Merit and consisted in a purple heart-shaped piece of silk with the word Merit stitched across in silver. The Purple Heart was awarded to only three revolutionary war soldiers; Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, JR. They were also inscribed in a “Book of Merit”. Unfortunately, the book was lost and after that time the decoration for military merit was largely forgotten.
The Purple Heart Strikes Back.
It was a long time without a recognition of the brave soldiers whose life was given for the country; but a decoration was necessary to honor them, and in 1927, the U. S. Army chief of staff, General Charles P. Summerall started the conversation again. He sent a draft bill to congress with the goal of revive the Badge of Military Merit. The bill was unsuccessful, but the battle didn’t end up there.
On 1931, General Douglas MacArthur, who was Sumerall’s successor, took up the cause and again try to relive the decoration in honor to those wounded and killed in service. His goal was to succeed and bring the badge back in time for the George Washington’s 200th birthday. And on February 22, 1932, the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth, the Order of the Purple Heart was created.
The new decoration was similar to the one created by Washington. It has the purple color, but instead of being a piece of silk, it was now made of a copper alloy, and displays a bust of George Washington and his coat of arms. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still given to U.S. military members.
Some Facts That You May Not Know About the Purple Heart
- The Purple Heart Day is a recent holiday, and that’s why it’s not widely known. Despite this, the celebration is getting bigger and last year was marked by a number of ceremonies that took place from coast to coast. It’s expected that this year the holiday will be expanded and more recognized.
- The medal is 33 mm wide and in the reverse side bears the inscription “For Military Merit”.
- The medal is given to soldiers wounded in service. This includes wounds from enemy bullets, bayonets, hand to hand combat, explosives, and nuclear biological or chemical weapons.
- Soldiers who suffer conditions like heat exhaustion, trench foot, food poisoning, infections, self-inflicted wounds or any non-combat related injury are not qualified to receive the Purple Heart.
- Among the famous people who have received the medal are included: actor Charles Bronson, filmmaker Oliver Stone, author Kurt Vonnegut and President John F. Kennedy
The Relevance of the Purple Heart Today.
We celebrate today in honor of all service members who have received this honor. The importance of the Purple Heart lies in recognizing the sacrifice of those who are put on the line to keep the country safe and free. It’s estimated that the award has been given to almost 2 million of brave soldiers since his conception.
Here at Sani Dental Group, veterans are honored and treated with the highest priority. We recognize the valor and sacrifice that soldiers have given to keep the world in peace, and that’s why we join to the Purple Heart Day celebration. On this day, we invite you to commemorate to those who fight for our ideals and defend our liberty. Because, like General Washington said; “liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth”.