The Purple Heart – a True Honor to Those Who Served

On August 7, 1782, General George Washington created The Badge for Military Merit. The purple heart-shaped silk was edged with silver and had the word Merit stitched across the heart. The badge was awarded to three soldiers during the Revolutionary War for their “singularly meritorious action.” Those who received the award that year, Elijah Churchill, William Brown, and Daniel Bissell, Jr., had their names written in the Book of Merit.

For nearly 150 years the badge was forgotten. It wasn’t until 1927 that General Charles Summerall, the Army’s chief of staff, unsuccessfully tried to revive the badge. However, in 1931 his successor, General Douglas MacArthur, was more successful in his effort. On Washington’s 200th birthday, February 22, 1932, the “Order of the Purple Heart” was created. The updated design included a bust of Washington and his coat of arms. The first Purple Heart was awarded to General MacArthur.

The Order of the Purple Heart is the oldest American military decoration for merit. It is awarded to those in the U.S. armed forces who were killed or wounded in action against an enemy and to soldiers who were prisoners of war on or after April 5, 1917. After 1932 some wounded Army veterans from conflicts prior to World War I applied for and received the Purple Heart. More recently the Purple Heart has also been given to those who display bravery as prisoners of war, while fighting some types of domestic terror as well as to those who are killed as a result of friendly fire.

Although exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that more than 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded.  Over 1 million Purple Hearts were awarded for World War II alone.  In 1996 Purple Hearts were presented to civilians after the terrorist attacks at Knobar Towers, Saudi Arabia for their injuries. However Congress passed legislation in 1997 prohibiting future awards from being given to civilians.

Veterans Commemoratives offers several customized items to those who have received the Purple Heart. They may be view on and ordered from the exclusive website:

PURPLE HEART NIGHT PATROL TACTICAL BLACK WATCH:  Customized to honor your service to our country, this high quality timepiece features a dramatic dial displaying the Purple Heart Medal and Ribbon in Official Colors.

VIETNAM MILITARY SERVICE RING:  Crafted in the US, the top of the ring features a solid 10 karat gold service emblem. Eight personal birthstones flank the emblem. One side of the ring features the War medal and ribbon in official colors, while the other shank displays the Purple Heart Medal and Ribbon.

U.S. VETERANS SERVICE WATCH:  Personalized with dials that are replicas of the WWII, Korean War Service, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq Service Medals and Ribbons.

Veterans Commemoratives is proud to honor all who have served our country. On August 7 we join the rest of our nation to honor Purple Heart recipients. For more information about Veterans Commemoratives and the many unique products offered, visit

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