Page 6 - Senior Link Magazine Fall 2020- Online Magazine
P. 6

History of the

                                                                         Purple Heart

                                                                         by Larry A. Williams
                                                                         Veterans Liaison Co-Chair
                                                                         Texas South Plains Honor Flight

                                                and the word Merit stitched across   Purple Heart, established by
                                                the front and was to be given      Gen. George Washington at
                                                for “any singularly meritorious    Newburgh, New York August
                                                action”. It was awarded to only    7, 1782, during the War of the
                                                three known soldiers during the    Revolution, is hereby revived
                                                Revolutionary War: Daniel Bissell,   out of respect for his memory
                                                Jr., William Brown and Elijah      and military achievements.”
                                                Churchill. The names were put into   Up until 1942, the award
                                                the Book of Merit.  This book was   was exclusively an Army
                                                lost and largely forgotten.        decoration. President Franklin
                                                                                   D. Roosevelt expanded it to
                                                In 1931,General Douglas            include Navy, Marine Corps
                                                MacArthur took up the cause        and Coast Guard members
            History of Military Decorations     to reinstate the medal. On         serving in WWII. President
                                               Washington’s 200th birthday,        Harry S. Truman retroactively
            The practice of awarding medals    February 22, 1932, the U.S. War     awarded Purple Hearts to WWI
            for military service dates back    Department announced the creation   veterans of all services.
            centuries.  The ancient Egyptians   of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”
            gave out the “Order of the Golden   This oldest, American military     Number of Purple Hearts
            Collar” and later the “Order of the   decoration is awarded to members   Awarded by Conflict
            Golden Fly.” The Roman Empire      of the U.S. armed forces who        •   The Revolutionary War: 3
            was known for bestowing awards     have been killed or wounded in      •
            on their brave soldiers for acts of   action against an enemy. It is also   WWI: 320,000
            valor. Countries around the world   awarded to soldiers who suffered   •   WWII: 1,000,000
            followed suit.                     as prisoners of war (POWs).         •
                                               Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic        Korean War: 118, 600
            History of the U.S. Purple Heart   specialist, was chosen to design the   •   Vietnam War: 351,000
                                               resurrected award, which became
            The origin of what we know today   known as the Purple Heart. In       •   Persian Gulf War: 607
            as the Purple Heart was created on   May 1931, the Commission of Fine   •   War in Afghanistan: 12,000+
            August 7, 1782, by order of George   Arts selected the design of John R.   •
            Washington, Commander-in-Chief     Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint.       Iraq War: 35,000
            of the Continental Army. The       The War Department announced        The Order of Precedence
            Badge of Military Merit consisted   the new award on February 22,
            of a purple, heart-shaped piece of   1932 as follows: “By order of the   All military awards are
            silk with a narrow binding of silver   President of the United States, the   arranged into what’s called

       6   Senior Link
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11