The original Purple Heart was called the Badge of Military Merit. George Washington, the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, designed the badge in the form of a Purple Heart, made from purple cloth, and the general order for it to be used was given to the Army on August 7, 1782. It was given, “not only in instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way”.
Most historians believe that only three people received the Badge of Military Merit during the Revolutionary War, all of them noncommissioned officers, and the only three to receive the award from General Washington himself. These soldiers were:
Sergeant William Brown of the 5th Connecticut Regiment of the Connecticut Line.
Sergeant Elijah Churchill of the 2nd regiment Light Dragoons.
Sergeant Daniel Bissell of the 2nd Connecticut Regiment of the Connecticut Line.
Although never abolished, the badge was not proposed again officially until after WWI.
After WWI, The Purple Heart was awarded in the name of the President of the United States, to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the US military. The Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members.
During World War II, nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the estimated casualties resulting from the planned allied invasion of Japan. To the present date, the total combined American military casualties of the seventy years following the end of WWII—including the Korean and Vietnam Wars—have not exceeded that number. In 2003, there remained 120,000 Purple Heart medals in stock. The existing surplus allowed combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep Purple Hearts on-hand for immediate award to soldiers wounded in the field.
I wonder if there are any of the WWII Purple Hearts left? My heart breaks to think about it.
Crayola added the color, Purple Heart, to their colors in 1998.
This post is just one of many in the Color Your World: 120 Days of Crayola Challenge!