August 7 marks National Purple Heart Day. The holiday, which was first observed two years ago commemorates those who have received a Purple Heart Medal and gives recognition for the sacrifices members of the U.S. armed forces have made. Those who have received this prestigious medal gave all they had for the good of our country.

The ‘Badge of Military Merit’ was first given to soldiers in the Revolutionary War by General George Washington in 1782. It signified “being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.” At the time of the Badge of Merit inception, Washington instructed that it be given as appropriate with no set criteria for awarding the Badge of Merit.

The Badge of Military Merit was reinstated twice, once in 1927 and again in 1931. General Charles Pelot Summerall wished for a bill to pass in Congress regarding the Badge, but no action was taken after 1928. In 1931, General Summerall had been succeeded by General Douglas MacArthur and brought renewed interest in reinstating the award. On February 22, 1932, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, the Badge of Military Merit was renamed the Purple Heart in honor of the fabric used to create the original award. The first Purple Heart was awarded to General MacArthur.

As of 2010, approximately 2 million Purple Heart Medals have been awarded to members of the US Armed Forces. The Purple Heart has also been awarded retroactively to include those who fit the criteria from the First World War.

One of the benefits of having Purple Heart Day is hear from veterans who lived during dark periods in history and are able to share stories about courage, honor, and strength. All across the country on Aug. 7, communities will come together to celebrate this special group of American citizens and pay their respects for the ones who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.

This Purple Heart Day, take some time out of your day and listen and share stories about veterans and the strength they showed during their time in the military. It is because of them that we are able to truly celebrate their accomplishments with this holiday and remember and honor the sacrifices all our veterans have made over the years.

The Purple Heart Foundation works with all veterans from all wars. Having a Purple Heart medal is not a prerequisite for service members to receive assistance from the Purple Heart Foundation. This Purple Heart Day, join the Purple Heart Foundation by making a charitable donation in honor or memorial of someone you know that has served our country. With the assistance of generous supporters like yourself, the Purple Heart Foundation is able to continue assisting veterans and their families. There are many ways you can get involved: