Purple Heart Day celebrates the creation of the humbling award

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Purple Heart Day: Five Winners You Didn't Know About


August 7 marks National Purple Heart Day, a day that commemorates the 1782 creation of the honor, which is awarded to valiant soldiers who were injured or killed in combat.

More specifically, the award was created in Newburgh, NY by General George Washington, who at the time was the commander in chief of the Continental Army.

The award was technically called the "Badge for Military Merit" and it was meant to be presented to soldiers for "any singularly meritorious action." It permitted its recipients to pass guards and sentinels without being questioned or challenged.

Originally, Washington only awarded the purple heart to three soldiers -- as far as we know -- during the Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissel Jr.

Interestingly enough, after awarding the Purple Heart to these soldiers, the "Book of Merit" was lost and the award was forgotten. That is, until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff sent a draft bill to Congress requesting that they "revive the Badge of Military Merit".

Although his efforts were unsuccessful, his successor, General Douglas MacArthur, made an effort to pick up where Summerall left off. He aimed to reinstate the medal just in time for the bicentennial of George Washington's birthday.

His efforts proved to be successful when the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the "Order of the Purple Heart" on February 22, 1932 -- the day that would be Washington's 200th birthday.

For more information on Purple Heart recipients and how to help veterans, visit the Purple Heart Foundation.

See the gallery below for photos of Purple Heart recipients:

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Purple Heart Recipients
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Purple Heart Day celebrates the creation of the humbling award
Mst. Sgt. John A. Kutcher of Portland, Ore., (right) looks on as Associated Press correspondent William F. Boni of New York works at his typewriter somewhere in New Guinea on August 5, 1943. Boni was awarded the Purple Heart decoration in recognition of wounds received on July 9 when the barge on which he was a passenger was strafed by machine guns and cannons off Nassau bay on the New Guinea coast. (AP Photo)
Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stivers, of Milwaukee, Wis., presents Associated Press War Correspondent William Boni, left, with the Purple Heart medal awarded him by Gen. Douglas MacArthur on August 14, 1943. This award in the Southwest Pacific area, was wounded nine times by shrapnel while accompanying American troops landing at Nassau Bay, New Guinea. (AP Photo)
Captain Annie Fox, Army nurse since 1918 on Dec. 17, 1943 is the first woman to receive Purple Heart. (AP Photo)
First Lieutenant Charles O. Taylor is shown here at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco following his evacuation because of illness after months of combat against the Japanese in the South Pacific on April 5, 1945. Lieutenant Taylor was sent from Letterman to a hospital nearer his home for further treatment. In addition to the Purple Heart awarded for wounds suffered in combat, this Infantry officer has the Combat Infantryman Badge for exemplary conduct in action against the enemy. (AP Photo)
Corp. Lyle D. Lewis (right), the ?Kandy Kid? who won fame as a scout in Korea on Sept. 3, 1951, receives the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in action against Chinese Communist Forces. His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Gerald F. Russell, of the third battalion, seventh marine regiment, presents the award during informal ceremony. Cpl. Lewis? wife, Reba, lives at route #5, Tacoma, Wash. (AP Photo)
Three U.S. Navy nurses are decorated with purple heart medals in Saigon to become the first American women to receive the medal for service in the Vietnam War at a ceremony on Jan. 7, 1965. The nurses were wounded in an explosion in Hotel Brink in Saigon, Christmas eve. From left are, Lt. Barbara J. Wooster of Laurel, Md.; Lt. Ruth A. Mason of Goshen, N.Y.; and Lt. Ann D. Reynold of Dover, New Hampshire. (AP Photo)
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara pins the Purple Heart medal on pajama jacket of Capt. Paul V. Daugherty, of Owensboro, Ky., at the U.S. Navy Hospital on July 17, 1965 in Saigon. Daugherty was wounded battling the Viet Cong. (AP Photo/Henry Huet)
Vice Admiral George Kinnear pins the Purple Heart medal on Petty Officer 3rd Clas Joseph R. Key of El Paso, Tex., Dec. 5, 1979. Key was among those wounded in a terrorist attack on a Navy bus in which two men were killed. (AP Photo/FC)
Actor James Garner, left, is all smiles as he holds up the Purple Heart medal presented to him in ceremony by Maj. General Lyle Barker, Chief of Public Affairs for the Army, Monday, Jan. 24, 1983, Los Angeles, Calif. Garner was wounded in April 1951 while with U.S. Forces in Korea, but his medal was never presented to him. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
Cpl. Thornell Shields from Savanna, Georgia, right, gets the Purple Heart award fixed by Gen. Richard C. Lawson, European Deputy Commander-in-Chief, during a ceremony in the U.S. Army Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, West Germany, Oct. 31, 1983, when 25 Marines and sailors were awarded, after the October 22 bombing of the Marines headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Kurt Strumpf)
U.S. Navy medic Clerence Conner, 21, of Hemet, California displays the first Purple Heart awarded to a soldier serving in Operation Desert Storm at a Navy fleet hospital in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 1991. Conner was injured by shrapnel during an artillery duel between his unit and Iraqi forces across the border on the first day of fighting. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Major Rhonda Cornum of Freeville, N.Y., left, and Specialist Troy Dunlap of Massac, Ill., are awarded the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medal during a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Wednesday, March 13, 1991 in Washington. Awarding the medals are Command Sgt. Major John Wilkins, second from left, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Carl E. Vuono, far right. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
Four former prisoners of war receive applause from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Carl Vuono, right, after receiving the Purple Heart. The POW medal and the National Defense Service Medal at a ceremony on Wednesday, March 13, 1991 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. From left are, Maj. Rhonda Cornum; Spec. Troy Dunlap; Spec. David Lockett; and Spec. Melissa Rathbun-Nealy. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
Lt. Col. Dennis Sabal, left, Commanding Officer Company F Marine Security Guard Battalion, awards the Purple Heart to Sgt. Daniel Briehl at a ceremony held in Nairobi Saturday, Jan. 9, 1999. The 28-year-old Marine, from Lorain, Ohio, was awarded the Purple Heart and the Marine Corps' highest peacetime medal for heroism for his bravery in saving lives from the bombed U.S. embassy in Nairobi Aug. 7, 1998. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
Harry T. Nahigian smiles as he wears his newly-awarded Purple Heart and Bronze Star in the Cranston, R.I., office of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Thursday, July 5, 2001. Nahigian received the awards for wounds he received on March 26, 1944, in Bougainville, Solomon Islands. Nahigian also received other medals for service, including a Good Conduct medal and a World War II victory medal. (AP Photo/ Victoria Arocho)
US Special Forces from Army and Air Force pose for a picture after the pinning ceremony for their Purple Heart medals Saturday, Dec. 1, 2001, in the Landstuhl US Regional Medical Center, western Germany. From left: Army Sgt. 1st class Paul, Army 1st Sgt. David, Army Capt. Kevin, Army Capt. Paul and Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike, who were all wounded by friendly fire during an US air strike against a Taliban fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan on Nov. 26, 2001. The airman to the right desired to receive his medal back in the States. (AP Photo/Axel Seidemann/Pool) ** FULL NAMES AND HOMETOWN NOT AVAILABLE DUE TO SECURITY REASONS **
A Purple Heart Medal hangs on the uniform of U.S. Army Pvt. Jack Horn, of the 10th Mountain Division, right, as other soldiers from 10th Mountain shake hands with other medal bearers during a brief ceremony at the military airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan, Saturday, March 16, 2002. Eight soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division were awarded the medals Saturday for fighting in the Paktia province earlier this month. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Retired commander Jerry Houston shows his Purple Heart medal at his home Tuesday, March 25, 2003, in Glendale, Ariz. Houston lost two of his fingers trying to disarm a mine in Word War II. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Marine Lance Cpl. Jason Smedley describes how he received the wound to his left hand while on duty in Nasariyah, Iraq, during an interview at his home Friday, April 11, 2003, in Little Rock, Ark. Smedley was awarded the Purple Heart and hopes to be returned to his unit when his wound heals. (AP Photo/Brian Chilson)
Earl Derrington a 78-year-old World War II veteran, holds a photo of himself with his medals, Wednesday, July 16, 2003, in Jackson, Miss. Derrington spent 105 days as a wounded prisoner of war in Germany after he was hit by a mortar shell during the Battle of the Bulge. Derrington understands the homesickness among the soldiers in Iraq. Derrington, wears the cap that represents his service as commander of the American Ex-Prisoners of War and holds a collage of war medals including The Purple Heart. (APPhoto/ Greg Campbell)
Carl McDonald, a Korean War veteran, diplays the Purple Heart medal he received from Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2003, in Columbus, Ohio. McDonald was injured in enemy attack in January, 1954, and never received his medal until Tuesday. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)
U.S. Army Spec. Philip Davis, 21, of Fairfax, Virginia, shows off his Purple Heart award at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003, while recovering from a bullet wound sustained sustained while serving in Iraq. Landstuhl, the largest U.S. military hospital overseas, is running at near wartime capapcity despite the declared end of combat nearly six months ago. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
U. S. Army Colonel Mark A. Milley, right, pins the "Purple Heart" to the uniform of U.S. Army Specialist Robert Fleming, of Feds Creek, Ky, as Fleming's fianc, April Zehr watches, on the set of "Live with Regis and Kelly" in New York, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004. Fleming was wounded by a roadside bomb four days before his tour in Iraq was to end. His wedding plans with Zehr were put on hold while he recuperated from extensive surgery. The two are scheduled to be married live on the air of "Live with Regisand Kelly" on Friday, Feb. 6. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, right, awards to Lt. Col. Thomas Brewer the Purple Heart in a ceremony in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, April 28, 2004. Brewer received the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for injuries he suffered and his bravery when pinned down and separated from his unit following an ambush in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
John Martinez of Pasadena, Texas, sports his Purple Heart during a ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington. Friday, May 28, 2004. Martinez earned the honor during a combat mission on April 11, 1945, when he and his A-20 crew went down over France, which resulted in his paralysis. (AP Photo/Lauren Burke)
Arkansas National Guardsman James Carter, right, is congratulated by Maurice Lewis, of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, after Carter received the Purple Heart medal Friday, Aug 6, 2004, in North Little Rock, Ark. Carter was one of three people who received the award, which is given to personnel who received wounds in action. (AP Photo/Neemah Aaron)
Brian Stokes, 27, talks about his football and military experiences at Appalachian State University on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006, in Boone, N.C. Stokes received the Purple Heart after he was hit with shrapnel from a roadside IED in Iraq while serving in the Marines. He now plays football for ASU and helped the team win their first national 1-AA title last year. (AP Photo/Ross Taylor)
Army reservist Danny Roberts holds his Purple Heart in his Dyckesville, Wis., home Friday, May 26, 2006. Roberts, 29, said he has been told he was the first soldier from Wisconsin wounded in Iraq following the March 2003 invasion to oust President Saddam Hussein from power. About 18,200 U.S. service members have been wounded in the Iraq war, including 347 who listed Wisconsin as their home address, said Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin, a spokesman at the Pentagon. Soldiers wounded in combat receive a Purple Heart medal. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
In this Photograph provided by the White House, President Bush, left, shakes the hand of Staff Sgt. Marcus Wilson, Dermott, Ark., after awarding him two Purple Hearts at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington Friday, Dec. 22, 2006, as first lady.Laura Bush, second from left, and members of the Marine's family look on. Wilson is recovering from wounds suffered in Iraq. (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper)
In this photograph provided by The White House, President Bush presents the Purple Heart to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Cordero of El Paso, Texas during a visit Friday, Dec. 22, 2006, to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington where the soldier is recovering from injuries suffered in Iraq. Looking on with first lady Laura Bush is Sgt. Cordero's mother, Rosa Cordero. (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper)
Master Sgt. Daniel Robles takes part in a Purple Heart ceremony at the Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007. Robles was injured in Iraq last spring. The Center for Intrepid, a $50 million physical rehabilitation facility for wounded military and veterans sill be dedicated Monday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Army Spc. Thomas R. Darr, from Lyman, Wyo., receives two Purple Hearts during a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Friday, April 6, 2007 Darr was wounded by an improvised explosive device while on convoy patrol near Ramadi, Iraq. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Sgt. Philip LaBonte, acknowledges the Detroit Lions fans after receiving his Purple Heart during the third quarter of the Tampa Bay at Detroit Lions football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2007. LaBonte, who is from Harris, Mich., lost his legs and an eye while fighting in Iraq, and is a Lions fan. His glass eye has a Lions insignia on it. The Lions learned of LaBonte's story from Carol Ewing, who helped with the Toys for Soldiers program. When she told the Lions he was a fan, team officials worked to make Sunday's honor a reality as part of their Hometown Heroes program. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
In this photograph released by The White House, President Bush awards a purple heart medal and citation to U.S. Navy Hospitalman Apprentice Jefferson Talicuran of Chula Vista, Calif., Thursday, July 3, 2008 at the National Naval Medical Center. in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/The White House, Eric Draper)
Sergeant Mary Dague at her home in San Antonio, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008. Dague, 24, lost her arms dismantling a bomb in Iraq. She was awarded a Purple Heart. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
U.S.Army Cpl. Sean Morton, 25, from Boston, Ma. of Killer Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment receives a purple heart award at Forward Operating Base Marez Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. Morton was injured in an October 15 roadside bomb attack. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
In this Oct. 21, 2009 photo, Kyle Salisbury, right, displays his Purple Heart, received from being wounded as a soldier in Iraq, as he sits with his wife Allison Salisbury in their home in Bellingham, Wash. Army officials say many new veterans suffering from PTSD and brain injuries struggle to find and keep a civilian job. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
In this Feb. 12, 2010 photo, Staff Sgt. Katie Blackwell poses with medals she was awarded, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, while she and her husband were deployed in Iraq, at her home in Champlin, Minn. Blackwell, who spent 16 months in Iraq as part of a nearly two-year deployment with the Minnesota Red Bulls from 2005 to 2007, estimates she and her husband are owed $8,000. The Pentagon's fix comes after intense pressure from members of Congress and as Minnesota legislators were considering appropriating state money to make up for the unpaid federal dollars. The Pentagon didn't announce when the soldiers would be paid, but U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said Defense Secretary Robert Gates' office told him the checks will go out by March 19. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
A photo of Coast Guard Lt. Thomas J.E. Crotty is shown next to a Purple Heart medal, one of several medals presented posthumously in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, May 6, 2010. The Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the Prisoner of War Medal and the Philippines Defense Medal were awarded during a ceremony in Crotty's hometown Thursday, the 68th anniversary of the American surrender in the Philippines. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
Retired U.S. Marine and Purple Heart recipient James M. Blaylock of Tucker, Ga., adjusts his hat during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Marietta National Cemetery on Monday, May 31, 2010 in Marietta, Ga. Blaylock lost his right arm as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser)
Army Spcl. Eric Kuhlman, of Wichita, Kan., is awarded the Purple Heart Army Col. Darryl Williams, Commander, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command,during a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. Kuhlman was injured while conducting a mounted patrol when his unit was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade near Paktika Province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Hall Duncan salutes after being presented with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in Oklahoma City, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011. Duncan earned these and six other military honors more than 60 years ago for service in the European Theatre that included two major battles in France. Duncan only learned recently that he was a Bronze Star recipient. He learned when he contacted Lankford's office for help getting his war record files. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman pins the Silver Star Medal and the Purple Heart onto Nebraska Army National Guard Second Lt. Bradley Duane Larson, at an award ceremony in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Larson is being awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
401756 02: Eighty-eight-year-old Sidney Bick, a Purple Heart recipient and U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, poses for a photo March 1, 2002 in his Skokie, IL home. Bick, a former bugler and sonar operator in the U.S. Navy, is a member of 'Bugles Across America,' a buglers group that plays Taps at veterans funerals in the Chicago area. The cap he is wearing identifies him as a past Department Commander of Military Order of the Purple Hearts. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Afghanistan––SGT 1st. class Broderick Morgan, 35, a member of the 82nd Airborne division of the U.S. Army, holds one of the two purple hearts he has be awarded for being shot in combat situations. Morgan, of McDonough, Ga. has survived a lightning strike in 1995, being shot in Kosovo in 1999 and most recently being shot this year in Kandahar, Afghanistan. All of the incidents have happened in July, which he jokingly says he should now take off each year on leave time. Photo/Art: ^^^ / Los Angeles Times. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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Read more awe-inspiring stories about heroes who have earned a Purple Heart award:


Meet Annie Fox: The first woman to ever be awarded a Purple Heart




Charles Elder was shocked to receive the honor 65 years after he served in the Korean war




Henry Johnson​ was a fiercely brave member of the famed WWII Harlem Hellfighters




Kristin Beck overcame immeasurable challenges on the battlefield and then at home




Calvin Winright's family had no idea he died a war hero -- until one woman found his award




Chris Melendez joined the military after the 9/11 attacks and now he's making history

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