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Where Did the Purple Heart Come From?

purple heart, military award, metal
The idea of the purple heart originated with General George Washington in 1782. (Image credit: U.S. Army | Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Back on an August day in 1782, General George Washington ordered a "Badge of Military Merit" created. It had a purple cloth heart with a silver braided edge. Only three people are known to have been given the award during the Revolutionary War, and the idea got lost in the shuffle of a radically changing country. In 1932, on the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth, the concept was revived by the U.S. War Department and the name changed to the Purple Heart. Bearing an image of Washington, it is awarded to troops injured by the enemy.

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Robert Roy Britt

Freelance writer Robert Roy Britt is an explainer of things, former editor-in-chief of LiveScience, and author of the science thriller “5 Days to Landfall.” His writing is here.