Today is Purple Heart Day. While it isn’t the best known of miliary-associated days, most people do know someone who was injured while in service to their country and may have received a “Purple Heart”. Many Sharp, Izard, and Fulton County residents have served in the military as they care deeply for the country.
Here is the history of the Purple Heart as told by representatives of Arlington National Cemetery:
The Purple Heart – America’s Oldest Military Award.
“President George Washington established the Badge of Military Merit Aug. 7, 1782, to recognize both unusual gallantry and extraordinary fidelity. Only three of these cloth hearts were awarded, until the Badge of Military Merit was revived in 1932 as the Purple Heart. Originally, the Purple Heart could be awarded for both meritorious service or for combat wounds. Posthumous awards were prohibited until World War II and were awarded only to those killed on or after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order granting the Navy authorization to award the Purple Heart to members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Those wounded in previous wars were granted retroactive awards. However, posthumous awards were limited to those killed on or after December 7, 1941. During the 1930s, some Civil War veterans applied for and received the Purple Heart.
“President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order in 1942 allowing for family members of those killed from April 5, 1917 onward to apply for posthumous awards. Between 1941 and 1997, around 100 civilian war correspondents, Red Cross personnel, and government employees earned the Purple Heart until Congress prohibited the practice in 1997. To date, over 1 million Purple Hearts have been awarded.
“While there are currently hundreds of such courageous service members now resting at ANC, we highlight a few to expand upon what it means to be awarded this medal.”