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Purple Heart Recognition Day: Understanding the Military Decoration

wall of heroes at Franklin Park Community

The men and women of the United States military are heroes who deserve to be celebrated every day for their bravery and sacrifice. Beyond this recognition, there are days that offer unique opportunities to recognize and remember these exceptional individuals. 

While everyone is familiar with Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day, there is another holiday that is just as important that you may not know about: Purple Heart Recognition Day. 

Observed on the day of its creation, Purple Heart Recognition Day falls on August 7th each year. It gives an opportunity for the nation to pause and acknowledge the sacrifices made by the brave members of our military. 

Franklin Park® Senior Living is a senior living provider with communities throughout San Antonio, Texas, home to one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the United States. We appreciate all the veterans and active duty service members for their strength and bravery. 

To honor this special day, we’re sharing some information about the meaning of the Purple Heart and how we observe military appreciation in our San Antonio senior living communities.  

The Creation of the Purple Heart 

The Purple Heart was first created in 1782 by the Commander-in-Chief, General George Washington. At the time, it was known as the Badge of Military Merit and was awarded to three Revolutionary soldiers in 1783—making it the country’s oldest military decoration. 

According to Washington himself, the Purple Heart was to be given to soldiers who demonstrated “instances of unusual gallantry but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service.”  Washington also designed the award to be a purple cloth heart. 

Like many of Washington’s original ideals, the Badge of Military Merit, now known as the Purple Heart, was to be an award by the people, for the people. And that’s genuinely what it was. The Purple Heart was one of the first military decorations that could be given to soldiers of any rank, as well as non-commissioned officers. 

Evolution Over Time  

The modern look of the Purple Heart came to be in 1932 when Army General Arthur MacDonald wanted to refresh the concept for the bicentennial of Washington’s birthday. The new-look featured George Washington’s likeness on the face of the medal. 

With the updated look, the eligibility for the Purple Heart changed, as well. Now, the medal was to be awarded for commendable action and to those wounded or killed in combat. This update expanded the eligibility to all branches of the military and the ability to be awarded posthumously. 

The Modern Purple Heart 

Since then, approximately 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded. The eligibility has expanded once again to include acts of bravery while being a prisoner of war (P.O.W.) or fighting domestic terrorism. Many of these have been awarded to notable servicemen and women, including writer Kurt Vonnegut, Twilight Zone host Rod Sterling, John McCain, and the only president to receive one, John F. Kennedy. 

Honoring the Brave

Every Purple Heart recipient is notable, though. This meaningful award recognizes the insurmountable bravery of those in our military. It is a symbol of courage, patriotism, and ultimate sacrifice. 

Reuniting Purple Hearts with Loved Ones

With almost two million Purple Hearts in circulation, many Purple Heart medals get lost or misplaced over time. If you find a Purple Heart at a flea market, senior living community, garage sale, or anywhere else, there is an organization you can contact that connects lost Purple Hearts with their rightful owners. If you find a lost medal, contact Purple Hearts Reunited to report it. 

Franklin Park® Supports Veterans

Franklin Park® Senior Living supports every active duty service member and Veteran. In each of our San Antonio communities, we have a Wall of Heroes honoring all of our residents who have served our country. Take a look at some of our Franklin Park heroes below. 

Franklin Park® wants to support our veterans in any way we can. In addition to welcoming all Veterans and family members to our community, we also accept Veterans’ benefits and encourage all Texas veterans—Franklin Park® residents or not—to take advantage of the various state-provided benefits

On this Purple Heart Recognition Day, we thank, honor, and remember all those who served and sacrificed. 

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Franklin Park® Senior Living offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care services throughout San Antonio, Texas. We welcome and respect Veterans from all walks of life, as well as any other older adult who is looking to enhance their retirement experience. To learn more about our communities, visit our website.

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