The Purple Heart

February 22, 2020 marks 88 years since General Douglas MacArthur reinstated the Purple Heart, the oldest military decoration still awarded today. The Badge of Military Merit, as it was called, fell into oblivion until 1932, when MacArthur, then Army Chief of Staff, pressed for its revival. At first an Army award, given to those who had been wounded in World War I or who possessed a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate, the order was amended to include personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Coverage was eventually extended to include all services and “any civilian national” wounded while serving with the Armed Forces.

This U.S. Marine Corps video was created by Lance Cpl. Gabriel Tavarez.

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Today marks the 88th anniversary of the Purple Hearts reinstatement by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. On February 22, 1932, Gen. MacArthur reinstated the Purple Heart so that it could be awarded to members of the Army during times of war. The award was originally created by George Washington on August 7, 1782 to recognize meritorious service in combat, though it was quickly forgotten after the Revolutionary War. Gen. MacArthur recreated the Purple Heart in recognition of Washington’s ideals. Ten years later, on December 3, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the Purple Heart for all branches of the military. The first documented Marine to receive the award was Cpl. Jack F. Bailey. He received it for his actions in the battle of Corregidor in the Philippines during World War II, where he was mortally wounded. Today, military personnel who are wounded or killed in combat receive the Purple Heart for their sacrifice.