Although many of us know it is an honor to receive one, we may not know what is a Purple Heart in the military. The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration which is awarded in the name of the President to those who were wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military, on or after April 5, 1917.
The question of what is a Purple Heart in the military involves looking at its history. The very first Purple Heart, which was originally called the Badge of Military Merit, was awarded in 1782 by George Washington, who at the time was commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. There were only three recipients during the Revolutionary War, after which the order was brought to a close, and not activated again until after World War I, when, at the prompting of Maj. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the badge was officially reinstated, and awarded to American veterans who had already won the army?s Meritorious Service Citation, but the criteria of the award were later expanded to all branches of the U.S. military. It now is awarded for a more comprehensive list of wounds or causes of death, including brain injuries.
Since that time, over 1.7 million Purple Heart medals have been awarded. That is a sobering thought when one realizes the sacrifices that soldiers have made. Receiving a Purple Heart means that one has suffered on behalf of others, for the sake of one?s country. In an effort to recognize and support these military personnel, the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), a congressionally chartered organization formed in 1932, operates a variety of programs, such as youth activities, scholarship programs, veterans? affairs organizations, and the National Purple Heart Trail. They also connect with donations services for a variety of strategies for helping military families. There are thousands of award recipients in the United States today; when one asks what is a purple heart in the military, the answer is “living every day with the knowledge of the meaning of sacrifice.”
You may have heard of ?those charities that pick up clothing donations,? but not known what the donated clothing was for. One of these clothing donation pick up services is GreenDrop, and they have partnered with the Military Order of the Purple Heart for over 50 years, raising over $1 million to help military families. While unused, or gently used clothing may be taking up space in your closet, it could be put to good use as a clothing donation, helping families in need and giving back to our military members. Simply call one of the charities that pick up clothing donations and let them put the items to new use.
Aside from aiding those in need and clearing out a cluttered closet, there?s another benefit to donating clothing: helping the environment. An estimated 12 tons of clothing and textiles are discarded annually, but only a small portion of it is being recycled. According to a 2011 study, approximately 2 million tons of clothing and textiles were recycled or donated to charity in the United States. What happened to the other 10 million? They went into landfills. Although it?s true that some clothing or fabric is not reusable, it?s approximated that at least 70 percent of what is currently sent to a landfill could have been recycled; either reworn or repurposed. Instead of throwing out old clothes, just make a pile of the clothes you don?t need, and call one of the charities that pick up clothing donations. You?ll be helping the environment, keeping your house free of clutter, and most importantly, helping our military families.
So, the next time you hear the question, ?what is a purple heart in the military?? You?ll have two answers; one that offers facts about its historical significance, and one that offers timely, practical ways to help those that have been awarded the Purple Heart.