Aug. 7 is Purple Heart Day – a day to honor American service members killed or wounded in service.
The Purple Heart award was created in 1782 by George Washington. It stands as the oldest military decoration that continues to be awarded today.
The Purple Heart was originally awarded for “any singularly meritorious action,” for only members of the Army, according to the DoD. However, after the Legion of Merit was introduced in 1942, the “meritorious action” requirement was removed from the Purple Heart, leaving the requirements to specify soldiers wounded or killed.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt extended the award to all armed service branches in 1942, and in 1952, President Harry Truman retroactively applied the award to April 5, 1917 – so World War I veterans were eligible.
More than 1.8 million service members have received the decoration.
The Department of Defense, along with several branches of the U.S. military, recognized Purple Heart Day today with videos and photos showcasing some of the brave Purple Heart recipients in history.
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 7, 2020
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also tweeted, saying, “The Purple Heart remains the oldest military award and is awarded to those wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States. On behalf of the@DeptofDefense and a grateful nation, I salute those great patriots who bear this honor.”
The Purple Heart remains the oldest military award and is awarded to those wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States. On behalf of the @DeptofDefense and a grateful nation, I salute those great patriots who bear this honor. pic.twitter.com/b7FF9r7D9v
— Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) August 7, 2020
The U.S. Marine Corps released a video honoring Purple Heart recipients.
The U.S. Army Reserve tweeted a video and said, “Today, we pause to recognize & honor the brave men & women who were killed or wounded in combat.”
— U.S. Army Reserve (@USArmyReserve) August 7, 2020
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) August 7, 2020
The U.S. Space Force tweeted, “We pause to remember and honor those brave service members who received the nations oldest military honor. — #PurpleHeartDay.”
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) August 7, 2020
President Donald Trump also released a presidential message honoring Purple Heart Day:
General George Washington established the Purple Heart—then known as the Badge of Military Merit—238 years ago today to recognize meritorious service in action during our Nation’s war for independence. Today, the Purple Heart is reserved for military service members wounded or killed in action. On this day, we pay tribute to these men and women, who have suffered and sacrificed so much for our Nation.
The Purple Heart medal, in its present form, bears the profile of General Washington. An American hero of unparalleled stature in our history, George Washington not only inaugurated this award, but he exemplified the uncommon courage, valor, and devotion to our Nation showed by all who receive it.
As we commemorate the establishment of one of our Nation’s highest honors, we also reaffirm our support and admiration for the remarkable heroes of America’s Armed Forces. Each day, these men and women safeguard peace and prosperity at home and abroad and protect our unique American way of life. Our Nation is forever indebted to these valiant warriors for their service and sacrifice.
The First Lady and I join a grateful Nation in paying tribute to Purple Heart recipients, their loved ones, and our Gold Star Families. As one Nation, we pray for the safety of our country’s men and women in uniform—both past and present—and commit to honoring their legacy of service now and for generations to come.