Patient Referral

Honoring Heroes: 90th Anniversary of the First Purple Heart

purple heart 90th anniversary

The Purple Heart is one of the most significant acts of recognition among American service members. The medal is awarded for "being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States, or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces." It is one of the only U.S. military distinctions that is awarded to all who fit the criteria — not just those who receive a recommendation from a higher-ranking official.

 The Purple Heart has become a symbol of the bravery and sacrifice of the United States’ men and women in uniform. Its storied history and significance are especially poignant as we reflect, 90 years after the first Purple Heart was awarded.

purple heart award

The History of the Purple Heart

What many people don’t know is that the Purple Heart originated with George Washington in August of 1782, making it the oldest military decoration still in existence. Not yet President, Washington established the Badge of Military Merit in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Washington personally awarded the badge to three soldiers before the end of the Revolutionary War.

The award was not given again until after World War I, renamed the Purple Heart. To honor Washington, the first Purple Heart was awarded on February 22, 1932 — what would have been George Washington’s 200th birthday. Since then, nearly 2 million service members have received Purple Heart medals.

purple heart history

Purple Heart Eligibility

Criteria for the Purple Heart has changed throughout the years, though the intent to honor those who were wounded or killed has remained the same. Currently, to be eligible for a Purple Heart, a service man or woman must have sustained serious injury or lost their life as the result of:

  • Any action against an enemy of the United States.
  • Any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.
  • An armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
  • An act committed by opposing armed forces or hostile foreign force.
  • An international terrorist attack against the U.S. or a foreign nation friendly to the U.S.
  • Serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.   

Although any member of the armed forces that fits the criteria is eligible for the Purple Heart, it is not awarded automatically. In order to apply for the medal for yourself or a loved one, visit here for instructions.                                                                                                                                                                                 

Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is proud to provide hospice care for these Veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. To learn more about Crossroads’ Veteran hospice services, please call 1-888-564-3405.


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