The Badge of Military merit (Purple Heart) Established
August 7, 1782 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
On August 7, Gen. George Washington established the "Badge of Military Merit". The medal was to be awarded for "singular meritorious action." Washington decreed that "whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear...over his left breast...a heart in purple cloth."
The badge was awarded to 3 Continental Army noncommissioned officers in 1783. The recipiants were the only confirmed soldiers to receive the medal for service during the Revolutionary War. The soldiers were:
After the war, the medal was forgotten for more than 150 years, until after World War I. The U.S. Army's leadership recognized that it needed a new award to recognize meritorious service.
By December 1931, the Army was ready to revive the Badge of Military Merit for both wartime and peacetime meritorious service. The plan was for the new badge to be announced on February 22, 1932,
the bicentennial of Washington's birthday. That same month, Gen. Douglas McAurther directed that the name of the new award be the Purple Heart instead of the Badge of Military Merit, and he changed the definition of meritorious service to include combat wounds.
On February 22, 1932, in General Orders No. 3, McAurther announced that "the Purple Heart, established by General George Washington...is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements."
The Purple Heart is America's oldest military medal with more than 1,000,000 recipients.