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The Purple Heart


Hand-Crafted Purple Heart Service Ribbon

What do John F. Kennedy, Oliver Stone, Chuck Yeager, and Lee Marvin all have in common?

All four men were awarded the Purple Heart.

On August 7, 1782, George Washington issued a general order establishing the Badge of Military Merit. The general order stated that soldiers who perform “singularly meritorious action” were to be awarded the Badge of Military Merit. The heart shaped badge was constructed out of purple cloth and was edged in white lace or cloth. Though George Washington intended for the award to be permanent, by the end of the Revolutionary War, only a few soldiers received this prestigious award.

George Washington’s Badge of Military Merit is the inspiration for the modern day Purple Heart and through an Executive Order, Herbert Hoover reestablished the Purple Heart on February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth.

“…By order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart, established by General George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the War of the Revolution is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.”

The Presidential order went on to state, that by request, any American service member who was wounded or killed on or before April 5th 1917, the day before the United States entered World War I, is also entitled to receive the Purple Heart.

iStock_000005962552SmallJohn R. Sinnock designed the Purple Heart in May of 1931. His design for the medal is a gold heart containing the profile of George Washington. At the top of the heart is George Washington’s coat of arms, which is denoted by a white shield with three red stars over two red horizontal bars.

The exact number of Purple Hearts issued is not completely known. Many Purple Hearts were issued to wounded soldiers in the battlefield or in hospitals during a bedside presentation. Although the Purple Heart is intended as a military medal, many civilians were awarded the Purple Heart as well. Some of the earliest civilians to receive the Purple Heart were a group of fire fighters that were injured or killed while fighting fires during the attack on Pearl Harbor. But in 1997, Congress passed legislation prohibiting civilians from receiving the Purple Heart. Today the Purple Heart is only issued to our men and women in uniform.

Do you have a family member in the military that you would like to honor? Contact Mark at to see how he can make a hand-crafted service medal to honor your military hero.

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