Purple Heart Day | August 7
Mon Aug 7th

Purple Heart Day

On August 7th, Purple Heart Day honors the establishment of the oldest American military decoration for military achievement. The Purple Heart honors the men and women who are members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The Badge for Military Merit of the American Revolutionary War honors six known soldiers.


In 1782, General George Washington created the Badge of Merit. For "any singularly meritorious act," Washington intended that the award be given to soldiers. Its creation featured a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk tied with a thin strip of silver, as shown in the illustration. The word Merit was embroidered in silver across the face. No one knows who created the award, although the badge represented the courage and sacrifice of an American Patriot.

The Purple Heart persisted as a Revolutionary War footnote until Washington's 200th birthday. The Order of the Purple Heart was created by the US War Department in response to General Douglas MacArthur's efforts. A bust of George Washington and his coat of arms is among the medals on display today.

Although an extensive and complete list of names doesn't exist, National Geographic recently reported that nearly 1.9 million service members have earned Purple Hearts since its inception. It is the oldest U.S. military award bestowed on service members today, and it is the first U.S. military honor bestowed on service members today. The Purple Heart acknowledged service members' commendable conduct as well as their service members' commendable conduct until 1944. Then in 1944, the conditions limited the award to only those who were wounded or killed in combat.

Purple heart firsts

  • The Badge of Military Merit was replaced by the Fidelity Medallion. During the Revolutionary War, William Brown and Elijah Churchill were among the first recipients of the Badge of Military Merit during the Revolutionary War
  • The first modern-day Purple Heart was awarded by Army General Douglas MacArthur
  • The first woman is given a Purple Heart. Army Lt. Annie G. Fox was awarded the Purple Heart during World War II for her actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor

How to celebrate purple heart day on a purple heart day

Anyone who has been given a Purple Heart Day is encouraged to honor those who have been given a Purple Heart. We can also learn more about the Purple Heart's Military Order.

Learn more about the heroes who were lauded for their service.

  • Read More About Military Merit: Fred L. Borch's Purple Heart or Patricia McCormick's Purple Heart are recipients of the Purple Heart
  • Watch a documentary. We recommend Purple Heart Warriors: Tears of a Warrior by Tony Seahorn
  • Visit a military museum on visit. Both the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the National WWII Museum have in-depth information on the Purple Heart

Sharing your findings is another way to celebrate. You can also tell someone who has been given a Purple Heart. Express why you think it's important to celebrate Purple Heart Day. When you do, use #PurpleHeartDay to post on social media.

History of purple heart day has influenced purple heart day

Since 1932, Americans have celebrated Purple Heart Day on both Washington's birthday and Valentine's Day. Various states and cities celebrated the day in their own way at various times throughout the year. Each pledge encouraged citizens to help wounded veterans by purchasing a purple viola.

No matter when the observance took place, it honored the men and women who were killed and wounded in combat as well as their brave acts. As the day progressed, it became more popular on the day of the Purple Heart's creation, August 7, 1782, as the day progressed.