By Emma Kaden

The color purple often represents loyalty and ambition, and the symbol of the heart represents love and emotion, so it comes as no surprise that the military medal that combines the two has become synonymous with bravery and devotion. The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the American military who have been wounded or killed while serving, and today is the 234th anniversary of the medal’s creation.

Since its inception, an estimated 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded. The Purple Heart is the oldest and most prestigious military award still given to U.S. military members. The award was created by Gen. George Washington on August 7, 1782 to recognize meritorious service in combat. Although the medal fell into disuse until 1932, it is now one of the most recognizable military medals given.

Why is the Purple Heart so important? Well, it recognizes outstanding (“meritorious”) acts of valor and bravery in combat. Furthermore, the medal serves as a constant reminder of those who were injured or killed in service to their country. The medal is awarded to the service member, or to the next of kin if the service member is no longer alive.

Adding to the medal’s significance is the important role it plays in recognizing the sacrifices Americans have made for their country. It symbolizes selflessness, courage, and most of all loyalty to the United States. The anniversary of the Purple Heart is a day where it is especially important to recognize the contributions of all service members, especially those who have been wounded or killed in combat.

If you don’t think a medal is enough tribute to those who have sacrificed themselves to protect their fellow citizens, then give them your time and appreciation instead. Remember those who have served, no matter when or where. Not only that, but do your part to keep America free and prosperous—because it is the responsibility of all Americans to ensure the sacrifices of those who served were not in vain. Millions of Americans have suffered physical or psychological injuries while serving their country. Even more, countless Americans have given their life for their country. We owe to these brave souls our deepest gratitude. The least we can do is honor their achievements, their ambitions, and the country they served: the United States of America.

National Purple Heart Day: Recognizing Service, 234 Years Later
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