Purple Heart Day, also known as National Purple Heart Day, Purple Heart Appreciation Day, and Purple Heart Recognition Day is commemorated every year on August 7. The Purple Heart Medal is a decoration awarded by the President of the United States to the soldiers of the U.S. military who were wounded or killed while serving their country, on or after April 5, 1917.
The medal is heart-shaped and purple with a gold border. It has the likeness of George Washington on the front, and on the back, the words "For Military Merit" are engraved. The medal hangs on a ribbon of purple silk.
Purple Heart Day is not a public holiday in the United States, so businesses and schools remain open.
The Purple Heart Medal originates from the Badge for Military Merit, created by George Washington on August 7, 1782. Washington was the commander in chief of the Continental Army and wanted a decoration to award to soldiers who performed "any singularly meritorious action" while serving in the army. The first medal was a purple heart-shaped piece of silk and had the word "Merit" stitched in silver. Only three soldiers were awarded this decoration in the Revolutionary War.
The award was largely forgotten after the Revolutionary War, until 1931 when General Douglas MacArthur lobbied for the reinstatement of the medal in order to celebrate George Washington's 200th birthday. General MacArthur was successful and on February 22, 1932, the Order of the Purple Heart was founded. The name, as well as the look of the medal, were changed, as were its requirements for the recipients of the decoration. Now, the medal is awarded to any soldier who is killed or wounded while in battle against an enemy of the United States.
The Purple Heart medal is different from other decorations in the U.S. Military as it is not awarded based on recommendation, but rather soldiers are entitled to it if they meet the necessary requirements.
It is estimated that 1.8 million soldiers have been the recipients of the Purple Heart Medal since 1932, some of them have been retroactively awarded the medal, as the award goes back to recognize those who served on and after 1917, in order to decorate those who fought in World War I.
The Purple Heart is the oldest military award that is presented to American servicemen and women to this day.
How Purple Heart Day is Observed
This day is mostly observed by the military services in America, who hold memorials and remembrance meetings for those who have fallen in combat, as well as events in honor of the soldiers and veterans who have been wounded while fighting the enemy.
Those who want to thank the soldiers for their service can donate to the Purple Heart Foundation or volunteer with the many organizations across America who help Veterans and their families.