Purple Heart

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The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest award that is still given to members of the U.S. military, the only earlier award being the obsolete Fidelity Medallion.

Contents

History

The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington—then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army—by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782.[1] The actual order includes the phrase, "Let it be known that he who wears the Military Order of the Purple Heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen." The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers and from then on as its legend grew, so did its appearance. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.

On October 10, 1927, Army Chief of Staff General Charles Pelot Summerall directed that a draft bill be sent to Congress "to revive the Badge of Military Merit". The bill was withdrawn and action on the case ceased on January 3, 1928, but the office of the Adjutant General was instructed to file all materials collected for possible future use. A number of private interests sought to have the medal reinstituted in the Army. One of these was the board of directors of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum in Ticonderoga, New York.

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