August 7th is Purple Heart Day – a day to honor the ~1.8 million Purple Heart recipients (United States Mint, 2022). The Purple Heart has origins as the oldest medal in the U.S. military and is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who have been injured or killed due to an enemy attack/action (Veteran.com, 2022). Additionally, it is special because it is an entitlement, meaning people receive it when they meet the basic criteria versus others requiring them to be nominated by their superior officer (Miller, 2010). This article will review a brief history of the Purple Heart and discuss ways in which we can honor the recipients.
History of the Purple Heart
According to The National WWII Museum and the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, the Purple Heart began as the Badge of Military Merit. It was established in 1782 because George Washington wanted to “cherish virtuous ambitions in his [enlisted] soldiers.” Receiving this metal was considered a high honor throughout the American Revolution, and only three individuals were documented to have received it. However, following the war, it wasn’t spoken about again until 1932, when it was renamed the Purple Heart. This rebranding was likely intended to honor the original design of the Badge of Military Merit which was a “figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding” (Virginia War Memorial Foundation, n.d.).
How Can We Honor Purple Heart Recipients?
Purple Heart Day, August 7th, is a time when our nation pauses to recognize the service and sacrifice of those who have received a Purple Heart. On this day, you may see various military organizations hold remembrance for their fallen heroes and give special thanks to the recipients. So, what can you do to honor these Service members and Veterans? You can…
- Offer a moment of silence and gratitude for those who died of injuries obtained while protecting our country.
- Create a safe space for recipients to discuss their experiences and needs. This will allow them to recognize the people in their life who support and care about their wellbeing.
- Donate your time or contribute to military foundations you resonate with, such as the Purple Heart Foundation .
Thank you to those who have served and a special thank you this month to those who received a Purple Heart.