Purple Heart Day is observed every year on August 7, since the medal was created on that day in 1782.
Originally called the Badge of Military Merit, consisting of a cloth purple heart worn over the left breast, it was awarded the first time by General George Washington. It was mostly forgotten until World War I, when a plan for valor and merit medals took shape.
Then in 1932, US Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur reintroduced the old Badge of Military Merit, renaming it the Purple Heart.
The Purple Heart is awarded for combat action only and is awarded to any person wounded in action while serving with the armed forces of the United States, even posthumously.
Designed by Elizabeth Will, the heart-shaped medal, including a profile of Washington, is one of the best known and most beautiful of all US decorations.
Both Dale R. Wilson and Daniel S. Wilson were killed in action during World War II. Both were awarded a Purple Heart. Daniel’s, with his name engraved on the back, was sent to his grieving parents. Dale’s death wasn’t officially declared until January of 1946. I asked for the family to receive his Purple Heart. It is not engraved.
It’s puzzling that the Purple Heart is awarded even for superficial wounds for veterans who survive, but there is no separate medal commemorating those who actually lose their lives.
American Medals and Decorations by Evans Kerrigan