Purple Heart Day does not simply commemorate the creation of the Purple Heart Medal. It is a day set aside to honor the wounded and fallen veterans of the United States. Not many citizens even know August 7th is recognized for this purpose, but many others spend the day remembering friends and family alike that have fallen in the battle for freedom. Every citizen of the United States should celebrate Purple Heart Day and understand its purpose.
The Purple Heart is a very distinguished military medal that was created by General George Washington on August 7, 1782. Often considered the first official military badge of the United States armed forces, Washington awarded the medal to Elijah Churchill and two Continental Dragoons. After this time, the Purple Heart, originally called the Badge of Military Merit, fell out of use and was not officially reinstated as a military medal until 1932. A Purple Heart was then meant to be given to wounded or killed soldiers serving in WWI and all wars following. Since the restoration of the medal, 1.8 million Purple Heart awards have been presented. Marine Sgt. Albert Ireland was awarded five Purple Heart Medals in WWII and four in the Korean War, setting the record of nine Purple Hearts awarded to one person. Seven other troops have received eight medals each, and two of those troops have received the Medal of Honor as well. Today, Purple Heart recipients include wounded and killed soldiers in every division of the armed forces. The medal is also awarded to troops who displayed valor and bravery as prisoners of war.
Like the name suggests, the Purple Heart is purple and shaped like a heart with a gold rim and an image of George Washington adorning the front. The back of the medal reads “Military Merit.” The medal hangs by a purple ribbon with a silver border.
Military Order of the Purple Heart
The Military Order of the Purple Heart was formed in 1932. Members are exclusively Purple Heart Veterans, but the Order of the Purple Heart benefits all veterans through their nation-wide programs. The Order of the Purple Heart organizes funds for welfare, rehabilitation, and service for veterans. The Purple Heart donations are collected through their fundraising operation, the Purple Heart Foundation. Along with monetary donations, they also accept the donation of clothes, other household items, and even cars. Another interesting fundraising technique is through the Purple Heart Viola. Not to be confused with the purple heart plant, the Purple Heart Violas are assembled and distributed by veterans in need. Sometimes disabled, these veterans aren’t able to receive compensation from other sources but do receive funds from viola contributions. By contributing to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, you can aid in the rehabilitation of veterans and their families.
The Ladies’ Auxiliary, Military Order of the Purple Heart organization isn’t for female Purple Heart military personnel, but for the wives, sisters, and daughters of Purple Heart veterans. The Ladies’ Auxiliary believes that by being there for veterans and showing camaraderie they will provide support to those who sacrificed so much for them. The women not only support their loved ones, but they support all veterans, providing support in national and local veterans’ hospitals.
Purple Heart Foundation
Previously mentioned, the Purple Heart Foundation is used by the Military Order of the Purple Heart for fundraising, but they also support many other programs that benefit veterans too. They inform veterans about education opportunities, scholarships, disability compensation, and employment training. They support research that aids in understanding mental scars veterans may have (such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and the organization even provides a full-time attorney for wounded service men and women.
Remembrance and Respect
On Purple Heart Day, military organizations hold meetings that revere and remember all veterans, troops, and Purple Heart recipients. Honoring all those who have served in the military, especially recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, is a good way to observe the day. You can also donate to Purple Heart veterans through the Purple Heart Foundation. The Purple Heart Foundation also recommends donating time to veterans and their families on this day. Simply flying the American flag at your home will support the amazing protectors of liberty that lay their lives on the line each day for our freedoms.
Regardless of what day it is, time spent remembering and appreciating the veterans who fought to defend the U.S. flag and what it stands for is time well spent. Too often people take their freedoms for granted while others lay their lives on the line. Purple Heart Day is an important part of reestablishing the respect and love we have for the United States armed forces and its veterans. If nothing else, use August 7th as a day to contemplate how much freedom you have, who keeps that freedom safe for you, and the growing list of Purple Heart recipients.