Aug. 7 marks the annual observance of Purple Heart Day. In Wisconsin, the governor annually proclaims the day and urges the state’s citizens to display the American flag as a “public expression of the recognition of those individuals who have been wounded or killed in action preserving the freedoms that all United States citizens cherish.”
The Purple Heart is the world’s oldest military medal still in use today. Its genesis dates back to General George Washington and the American Revolution, when Washington created the Badge of Military Merit on August 7, 1782.
The original award was forgotten for nearly 150 years after the Revolution, until its rediscovery and reintroduction in1932 on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth. The medal was reborn as the Purple Heart. The original badge created by Washington was the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk worn over a Soldier’s left breast.
Redesigned for its re-introduction, the modern Purple Heart includes a bust of Washington at its center, with the coat of arms for Washington’s family on top. The words “For Military Merit” are inscribed on the back of the medal.
The medal is awarded on behalf of the president to any member of the Armed Forces who was wounded or killed in action, died as a result of being wounded in battle, or any service member wounded or killed by friendly fire or in acts of terrorism.
As such, the Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. military.
While each story that led to a Purple Heart is different, each recipient is deserving of the love and thanks of a grateful nation. So on this Purple Heart Day, join your fellow citizens and display Old Glory as a “public expression of the recognition of those individuals who have been wounded or killed in action preserving the freedoms that all United States citizens cherish.”