The Meaning of Purple Heart Day

Purple Heart Day is celebrated August 7 every year. It is also referred to as Purple Heart Recognition Day, National Purple Heart Day, and Purple Heart Appreciation Day. Every year we take a day to acknowledge those who have served for our country and have been wounded in battle, were a POW, or have died of their combat related injuries.


The Purple Heart was established August 7, 1782 by President George Washington as the Badge of Military Merit. The badge was only awarded three times before it became obsolete.  The award was re-established February 22, 1932, in honor of Washington’s 200th birthday. During WWII the Purple Heart was awarded based on merit and being wounded in combat.

In 1996 the medal was awarded to those who were POWs, suffer wounds from a terrorist attack, or suffer from friendly fire intended for enemy forces.

In the order of precedence, the medal is placed below the Bronze Star and above the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

After the award was reinstated in 1932, the Purple Heart was awarded to service members who were awarded the Army Wound Ribbon, the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate, or were authorized to wear wound chevrons on their uniforms.

In 1942 by executive order, the medal was awarded to all branches and only included injuries sustained from battle.

By 1962 the Purple Heart was now allowed to be awarded posthumously

In 1984 the medals’ eligibility was extended for those who were POWs, suffer injuries from a terrorist attack, or were caught by friendly fire intended for enemy forces.


Senator Tammy Duckworth

Senator Duckworth served in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 2014, was deployed to Iraq, and served in the Illinois National Guard. She was awarded the Purple Heart after she lost both of her legs when her helicopter was shot down.

During her service in Iraq Duckworth was awarded the following medals and badges: Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation (with oak leaf cluster), National Defense Service Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with four oak leaf clusters), Army Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, and the Senior Army Aviator Badge.

Duckworth was also awarded the Dame Grand Cross, First Class, of the Order of the Crown of Thailand. The First Class award is the second highest award from the Order of the Crown of Thailand; the order is awarded to the royal family, governmental employees, and foreign dignitaries for their outstanding services to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Senator Duckworth went on to serve as a Senator from Illinois.

Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone is a renowned writer and filmmaker, known for Midnight Express (1978), Scarface (1983), and Platoon (1986).

Stone served in Vietnam with the 22nd Infantry Regiment and 1st Cavalry Division for one year, 1967 to 1968 and was awarded the following medals: Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Army Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Eric Shinseki

Eric Shinseki served as the 7th Secretary of Veteran Affairs under the Obama administration, 34th Chief of Staff of the Army under President Clinton and President George W. Bush, and the 28th Vice Chief of Staff of the Army under President Clinton.

Eric Shinseki’s ribbon rack, built with Medals of America’s ribbon rack builder

Shinseki served in the Vietnam War and the Bosnian War and was awarded 19 awards with attachments. Below is an image of his ribbon rack built with our ribbon rack builder.