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The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award that is still given to members of the U.S. military, the only earlier award being the obsolete Fidelity Medallion. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York.

File:Purpleheart.jpg

File:Purpleh_back.jpg Purple Heart

Awarded by United States Armed Forces
Type Military medal (Decoration)
Eligibility Military Personnel
Awarded for "Being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces"
Status Currently Awarded
Statistics
First awarded February 22, 1932
Total awarded 1,910,162 (as of 5 June 2010)
Precedence
Next (higher) Bronze Star Medal
Next (lower) Defense Meritorious Service Medal
File:Purple_Heart_BAR.svg

Purple Heart Ribbon

History

The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington—then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army – by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers and from then on as its legend grew, so did its appearance. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.

On October 10, 1927, Army Chief of Staff General Charles Pelot Summerall directed that a draft bill be sent to Congress "to revive the Badge of Military Merit". The bill was withdrawn and action on the case ceased on January 3, 1928, but the office of the Adjutant General was instructed to file all materials collected for possible future use. A number of private interests sought to have the medal reinstituted in the Army. One of these was the board of directors of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum in Ticonderoga, New York.

On January 7, 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened work on a new design, involving the Washington Commission of Fine Arts. This new design was issued on the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General, was named to redesign the newly revived medal, which became known as the Purple Heart. Using general specifications provided to her, Will created the design sketch for the present medal of the Purple Heart. Her obituary, in the February 8, 1975 edition of The Washington Post newspaper, reflects her many contributions to military heraldry.

File:Purple_Heart_Trail_on_Interstate_35_IMG_1065_1.JPG Sign on Interstate 35 designating the Purple Heart Trail.


The Commission of Fine Arts solicited plaster models from three leading sculptors for the medal, selecting that of John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint in May 1931. By Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was revived on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington's birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Orders No. 3, dated February 22, 1932. The Purple Heart award is a heart-shaped medal within a gold border, 1 ⅜ inches (35 mm) wide, containing a profile of General George Washington. Above the heart appears a shield of the coat of arms of George Washington(a white shield with two red bars and three red stars in chief) between sprays of green leaves. The reverse consists of a raised bronze heart with the words FOR MILITARY MERIT below the coat of arms and leaves. The ribbon is 1 and ⅜ inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes: ⅛ inch (3 mm) white 67101; 1 ⅛ inches (29 mm) purple 67115; and ⅛ inch (3 mm) white 67101.

Additional awards of the Purple Heart medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters in the Army and Air Force and by 5/16 inch stars in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard).

The criteria were announced in a War Department circular dated February 22, 1932 and authorized award to soldiers, upon their request, who had been awarded the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate, Army Wound Ribbon, or were authorized to wear Wound Chevrons subsequent to April 5, 1917, the day before the United States entered World War I. The first Purple Heart was awarded to MacArthur. During the early period of American involvement in World War II (December 7, 1941 – September 22, 1943), the Purple Heart was awarded both for wounds received in action against the enemy and for meritorious performance of duty. With the establishment of the Legion of Merit, by an Act of Congress, the practice of awarding the Purple Heart for meritorious service was discontinued. By Executive Order 9277, dated December 3, 1942, the decoration was extended to be applicable to all services and the order required that regulations of the Services be uniform in application as far as practicable. This executive order also authorized the award only for wounds received. AR 600-45, dated September 22, 1943, and May 3, 1944 identify circumstances required to meet in order to be eligible for the Purple Heart for military and civilian personnel during World War II era.

Executive Order 10409, dated February 12, 1952, revised authorizations to include the Service Secretaries subject to approval of the Secretary of Defense. Executive Order 11016, dated April 25, 1962, included provisions for posthumous award of the Purple Heart. Executive Order 12464, dated February 23, 1984, authorized award of the Purple Heart as a result of terrorist attacks or while serving as part of a peacekeeping force subsequent to March 28, 1973.


File:Purple_Heart_Memorial_Westland_Michigan.JPG Purple Heart Memorial, Westland, Michigan

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