|The ORDER of the PURPLE
HEART for MILITARY MERIT, commonly called "The Purple Heart", is an
American decoration - the oldest military decoration in the world in
present use and the first award made available to a common soldier.
It was created by one of the world's most famed and best-loved
heroes - General George Washington.
General Washington is often pictured as a cold, stern soldier, a
proud aristocrat, a martinet. Perhaps he was all of these at times.
Yet we know he showed sympathy and concern for his troops, and was
not too proud to pray,
|humbly on his knees,
for his beloved country and for the men who served it, and him, so
bravely and loyalty. His keen appreciation of the importance of the
common soldier in any campaign impelled him to recognize outstanding
valor and merit by granting a commission or an advance in rank for
the person concerned. In the summer of 1782 he was ordered by the
Continental Congress to cease doing so - there were no funds to pay
the soldiers, much less the officers!
Deprived of his usual means of reward, he must have searched for a
substitute. Shortly after receiving the "stop" order from Congress,
he wrote his memorable General Orders of August 7, 1782, which read
in part as follows:
|"The General, ever
desirous to cherish virtuous ambition in his soldiers as well as
foster and encourage every species of military merit, directs that
whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author
of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings, over his left
breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with
narrow lace or binding. Not only instances of unusual gallantry but
also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way
shall meet with due reward... The name and regiment of the persons
so certified are to be enrolled in a Book of Merit which shall be
kept in the orderly room... Men who have merited this distinction to
be suffered to pass all guards and sentinels which officers are
permitted to do... The order to be retroactive to the earliest
stages of the war, and to be a permanent one... The road to glory in
a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all."
|Lost or misfiled for
almost 150 years among the War Department Records at Washington,
D.C., this important paper came to light during the search for
Washington's papers prior to the celebration of his Bi-Centennial in
1932. With it were the dramatic accounts of three soldiers who
received the decoration at Newburgh, N.Y., at Washington's
Headquarters. The book of Merit has not been found. The U.S. War
Department revived the Purple Heart decoration on February 22, 1932.
The revived form is of metal, instead of perishable cloth, made in
the shape of a rich purple heart bordered with gold, with a bust of
Washington in the center and the Washington coat-of-arms at the top.
The latter is believed to have been the source of the stars and
stripes of the American Flag.
Purple Heart is the world's costliest military decoration - nineteen
separate operations are required to make it from the rough heart
stamped from bronze to the finished medal, plated with gold and
enameled in various colors, suspended from a purple and white
The ORDER of the PURPLE HEART is awarded to members of the armed
forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the
hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name
of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in
action. It is definitely a combat decoration.
An organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple
Heart," was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of
all who have received the decoration. Composed exclusively of Purple
Heart recipients, it is the only strictly "combat" organization in
Funds for welfare, rehabilitation and/or service work carried on by
the organization are derived almost entirely from the annual
distribution of its official flower, The Purple Heart Viola. These
are assembled by disabled and needy veterans, many of whom receive
little or no compensation from other sources. Thus your contribution
for a Viola serves a two-fold purpose - it helps the veteran who
assembled it, and enables the organization to do many things in
behalf of hospitalized and needy veterans and their families.
The Purple Heart Viola on your lapel is evidence that YOU have not
forgotten the price of liberty paid in the past and still being paid
by those who have borne the brunt of battle in defense of America.
the Purple Heart - a
designed&maintained by steve
speer / [email protected]