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On May 3, 1783, General George Washington (above) awarded the
Badge of Military Merit to two brave Connecticut soldiers at the Continental Army headquarters in Newburgh, New York.

On this day in 1782, in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington,
the commander in chief of the Continental Army, creates the “Badge for
Military Merit,” a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of
silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched
across the face in silver (above). 

The badge was to be presented to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious
action” and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without
challenge. The honoree’s name and regiment were also to be inscribed in
a “Book of Merit.”

Washington’s “Purple Heart” was awarded to only three known soldiers
during the
Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel
Bissell, Jr. The “Book of Merit” was lost, and the decoration was largely
forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army
chief of staff, sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to “revive the
Badge of Military Merit.”

In 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the
cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington’s 200th birthday,
the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the
Purple Heart” (below).

posted by Bob Karm in ANNIVERSARY,Awards,DEBUT,HISTORY,Medal,Medal of Honor,MILITARY and have No Comments

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