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The Purple Heart

By Pat Whitehall - | Aug 18, 2021

Many of us have heard of the Purple Heart, but do not know the history and significance of this very special award. It is the highest ranking military medal awarded for valor and heroism, honoring those who serve in combat and perform above and beyond the call of duty.

The Purple Heart was introduced in 1782 as a “Badge of Military Merit” by George Washington. It is the nation’s oldest military award. Originally, it was termed “broken service” by the military for nearly 150 years until reintroduced on Feb. 2, 1932 which happened to be the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday.

The plain inscription “For Military Merit” barely expresses its significance. It is awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving on or after May, 1917 with the U.S. Military. Since its inception, the Purple Heart has been given to 1.8 million service personnel. In 1942, President Roosevelt gave new qualifications for receiving the medal and because of that, the award has been given posthumously to approximately 430,000 veterans of all the military branches.

Aug. 7 has been set aside as the day to recognize men and women who have been wounded or made the ultimate sacrifice while defending the country as part of our Armed Forces. On Aug. 7 of this year, VFW, Post 4174 held a Purple Heart Ceremony and gave a Purple Heart coin to the recent widow of one of our own heroes. Even some famous actors have won a Purple Heart and they are James Arness, Charles Bronson, James Garner and Rod Serling.

In 1932, General Douglas McArthur revived the look of the medallion by giving it a modern day look by having a likeness of President Washington instilled in a golden heart with a purple fold above it.

The ceremony which was held at 25 Homestead Road in Lehigh Acres, began with the Boy Scouts proudly marching in parade formation with the American Flag waving delicately in the slight evening breeze. Upon hearing the gun salute, many participants felt shivers go down their spines and spent several minutes reflecting on those who had served so valiantly.

We, the People salute all those who have won the Purple Heart and thank you for your service.