The Purple Heart is a United States military medal that is awarded to service members who have been injured or killed in the line of duty. Based on the Badge of Military Merit established by General George Washington in 1782, the Purple Heart is considered the oldest military award given to U.S. service members. The award was revived for Army personnel on the anniversary of Washington’s birth in 1932 at the urging of General Douglas MacArthur. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt extended eligibility to include personnel from all military services. In 1952, President Harry S Truman extended eligibility to April 5, 1917, making World War I veterans eligible. In April 1962, President John F. Kennedy extended eligibility to include civilians serving with the armed forces. Finally, in 1982, President Ronald Reagan extended eligibility to include those killed during terrorist attacks or while serving with peacekeeping forces since 1972. Civilians were removed from eligibility by the National Defense Authorization Act of 1998. An organization known as the Military Order of the Purple Heart was formed in 1932 “for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration.”
“The Purple Heart.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Accessed April 9, 2018, https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/purple-heart.pdf.
“History of the Order.” Military Order of the Purple Heart. Accessed April 9, 2018, http://www.purpleheart.org/HistoryOrder.aspx.