Purple Heart Day celebrates the creation of the humbling award
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:
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