General George Washington asked his wife, Martha, to assist him in producing a medal of honor to be given to colonial soldiers wounded in battle. He had her cut purple velvet into heart shapes and sew on the word MERIT. It was a very special recognition considering they had so little to work with.
The first ceremony for presentation of the Badge of Military Merit took place in Newbourgh, New York in 1782. At that time, General Washington said, “the road to glory in a patriot army and free country is thus open to all.”
Although never abolished, the award of the badge was proposed again officially after WW1. Years followed when records were lost or poorly kept but General MacArthur helped revive the presentation of this special medal in 1932. He confidentially re-opened work on a new design, involving the Washington Commission of Fine Arts. Elizabeth Will, an Army specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General, redesigned the new medal which became known as the Purple Heart. Using general specifications provided to her, she created the sketch for the present Purple Heart which exhibits a bust and profile of George Washington. It was issued on the bicentennial of Washington’s birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by the War Department order dated February 22, 1932.
“The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed. Specific examples of services which warrant the Purple Heart include any action against an enemy of the United States; any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged; while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party; as a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces; or as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.”
Many veterans have come to be residents of the state of Florida and our city and state are very proud to honor these men and women for their accomplishments in keeping our country free.
If you haven’t been to the Veterans Museum at 166 South Beach Street in Daytona, perhaps it’s time to pay them a visit. They have an excellent rating and you will be glad you stopped by.
Kitty Maiden is a staff writer for Seniors Today.