Two hundred and thirty-five years ago today, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington, introduced the “Badge for Military Merit” to his soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action.”
The Badge consisted of a simple heart of purple silk edged in silver, with ‘Merit’ stitched across it, also in silver. The award allowed the bearer – whose name was added to The Book of Merit – to pass guards unchallenged.
Sadly, the Book was lost to history, and the fate of Washington’s “Badge of Military Merit” nearly was, too, until 1927, when US Army Chief of Staff General Charles P. Summerall tried to reinstate it. Summerall retired the next year, and his replacement, General Douglas MacArthur took up the cause, determined to reinstate the Badge in time for George Washington’s 200th birthday the following February.
Sure enough, on February 22, 1933 the Department of War re-introduced General George Washington’s “Badge of Military Merit” as, “The Order of the Purple Heart.”
So let’s pause to thank all those extraordinary men and women through the centuries who have suffered and sacrificed to preserve the blessings of our liberty.
Happy Purple Heart Day!