Following the start of the New Year, back in 1789, America held its first presidential election. Utilizing the same Electoral College system that we use today, George Washington was named our first president. Now, before George Washington became president he demonstrated his capabilities through a vast array of achievements.

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George Washington’s military experience saw its beginning during the French and Indian war. His determination and great valor during the Battle of Monongahela won him the name, “Hero of Monongahela”; but, that was just the beginning. Washington’s previous military and leadership experience made him the clear choice to lead the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He was commissioned as the General and Commander-in-Chief as well. Washington led the Continental Army throughout the revolutionary war, though they faced tough battles and even lost some, he never gave in. His leadership led to defeat the British Army at the Battle of Yorktown. This was the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War, which in turn forced the British to negotiation for an end to the conflict.

In addition to George Washington’s incredible military accomplishments, his unwavering leadership is what brought him to become our first president. A great example of Washington’s leadership was his creation of three new military badges, two Badges of Distinction and the badge of Military Merit. He wanted to celebrate and honor the service of his common soldiers. Previously only those of higher ranking or class could be honored. Washington believed that “the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all,” so he developed these new medals in order to honor his men.

The Badge of Military Merit. Washington insisted on praising the ambitions and strong actions he saw in his soldiers. His specific orders regarding this medal explained that “whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings over the left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth, or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding.” There are only three individuals known to have been awarded the Badge of Military Merit.  

Now, Washington did more than just honor those three men and open the door for regular soldiers to be honored with the creation of that medal. Without knowing, he created the precedence for the establishment of the Purple Heart Medal. Close to one hundred and fifty years later, the Army adopted the medal with the help of General Douglas MacArthur. On the two hundredth anniversary of George Washington’s birth, the Purple Heart was reborn.

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Thousands of brave servicemen and women have been awarded a Purple Heart since its rebirth. They, along with their fellow service members are heroes. Without their dedication to this country, we would be unable to have our day-to-day freedoms. Here at the Purple Heart Foundation, we are committed to honoring all of our heroes. It is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve.

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