Purple Heart Day

Next Wednesday, 7 August 2024

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. 

Purple Heart Day is not a public holiday in the United States, so businesses and schools remain open. 

Purple Heart Day

History of Purple Heart Day

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.

He wanted a decoration to award to soldiers who performed "any singularly meritorious action" while serving in the army. 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. 

Did you know?

  • 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. 
  • The Purple Heart is the oldest military award that is presented to American servicemen and women to this day. 
  • Recipients of the Purple Heart medal are entitled to certain benefits, such as priority medical care at VA (Veteran Affairs) medical facilities, and in many states access to special license plates and parking privileges.


The badge of military merit was a simple design, with a purple heart-shaped piece of silk and the word "Merit" stitched in silver. 

The new medal introduced in 1932 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.

the Purple Heart medal

Who has received it?

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. 

Over the year many famous people have been awarded the purple heart, these include:

  • Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, who received the award for serving in Vietnam War. He injured his foot in a punji-stick trap that had been placed by the Vietnamese army on the border between Laos and Vietnam.
  • Former president John F. Kennedy received a Purple Heart Medal for rescuing his navy crew during a battle at sea in 1943. In a collision with an enemy boat JFK's boat had been sunk, he swam over 4 miles while pulling members of his crew to safety, holding onto a makeshift raft with his teeth. During the incident he sustained injuries to his back and stomach (from imbibing fuel in the water) for which he was presented a Purple Heart Medal. 
  • The famous actor Charles Bronson, from films such as The Magnificent Seven, also served in the Air Force between 1943 -1946, leaving the military service due to injuries for which he received a Purple Heart. 

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.

Some events are organized by The Military Order of the Purple Heart, which is active in holding regional meetings and annual conventions and publishing a magazine for recipients of the Purple Heart Medal. 

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 that help Veterans and their families.

Purple Heart Day
Purple Heart Day

Purple Heart Day - Next years

Thursday, 07 August 2025

Friday, 07 August 2026

Saturday, 07 August 2027

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