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 Day celebrates the creation of the humbling award
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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