(WVUE) - You may not know it, but August 7 is National Purple Heart Day. It's a day to commemorate a military honor that dates back to the American Revolution.
It's awarded to valiant military servicemen and women who were injured or killed in combat. General George Washington created the award in 1782. Washington wanted to honor merit, especially among the enlisted soldiers. On August 7, 1782, the Badge of Military Merit was created. This award was open only to enlisted men.
Washington stated that the award was to be a permanent one, but once the Revolution ended, the Badge of Merit was all but forgotten until the 20th century. General John Pershing suggested a need for an award for merit in 1918, but it was not until 1932 that the Purple Heart was created in recognition of Washington's ideals.
Over the years the Purple Heart has undergone many changes opening it up to more individuals who fit the criteria. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order allowing the Navy to award the Purple Heart to Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel. Also in that year, the Purple Heart was made available for a posthumous award to any member of the military killed on or after December 7, 1941.
It's a distinct looking award comprised of a purple, heart -shaped piece of silk with a narrow edge of a silver stitch with the word Merit across the face of it.