Purple Heart Day – 7 August

Friday, 7 August 2015 is the  233rd anniversary of the creation of the Purple Heart by General George Washington. Originally the Badge for Military Merit, the embroidered badge was worn around the neck on a suspension ribbon. The badge quickly fell into disuse as decorations were then seen as “anti-republican” but was revived on Washington’s  200th birthday (22 February 1932) as the Purple Heart, awarded for wounds and death as a result of enemy action.

At left is a photo of one the still existing, original Badges of Military Merit. At right is an artist’s conception of the original. At bottom is the modern medal featuring a bust of Washington and the shield of his family coat of arms.

At center, Washington presents the Badge to Sergeants Elijah Churchill and William Brown at Newburgh, NY in May 1783.

The painting by Company of Military Historians Founder, H. Charles McBarron for the Department of the Army also illustrates the enormous changes in the Continental Army by the end of the Revolution. In terms of age of decorations, the Purple Heart is second only to Russia’s St. George’s Cross.

Major James B. Ronan is a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians http://www.military-historians.org/

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