The Purple Heart Foundation originated in 1957 as a way to fund the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization made up of individuals who’ve earned the Purple Heart. This medal recognizes those who have been injured or killed while serving in the U.S. military. Through fundraising efforts, the foundation generates money that supports programs to help combat-wounded veterans and their families.
Purple Heart Day takes place every August 7 to honor Purple Heart recipients, thank them for their service, and educate the public. First celebrated in 2014, Purple Heart Day offers an opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifices made by veterans and active military who’ve received the Purple Heart.
The Medal and Award
Fashioned after a medal that George Washington gave to three men who served under him in battle during the Revolutionary War, the Purple Heart is a heart-shaped medal with a purple center and the profile of the country’s first president emblazoned on it. An engraving on the back of the medal reads, “For Military Merit.”
The medal became a standard award for military personnel who have been injured during battle when President Herbert Hoover authorized it on Washington’s 200th birthday. Since then, more than 1.8 million of the medals have been awarded. The Purple Heart is one of the few military medals awarded to servicemembers of any rank.
How to Celebrate Purple Heart Day
Purple Heart Day is not a recognized federal holiday, but it is still observed around the country in a variety of a ways. Major League Baseball teams honor local Purple Heart recipients during pre-game ceremonies, and military and veterans organizations host remembrance meetings. The Purple Heart Foundation asks those who wish to observe the holiday to donate time or money to the organization to support the Military Order of the Purple Heart.