General George Washington created Purple Heart Day in 1782 as a badge of military merit for soldiers who had been wounded during “any singularly act of meritorious action.” The soldier would be presented this badge, their name would be inscribed in the “Book of Merit” along with their regiment and they would be publicly recognized for their valor.
Since that point in history, honoring wounded American military veterans has been an important tradition nationwide for decades. There are few Americans who deserve to be recognized and thanked more than veterans who have made an even greater sacrifice for their nation than serving overseas. So many have lost limbs, eyes and other parts of themselves while fighting for our freedom and protecting their fellow warriors. There are several ways small communities and big cities have traditionally honored wounded warriors each year on August 7. Here are just a few.
Mount Vernon Estate
Unsurprisingly, the Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia (the past home of George Washington) puts on a National Purple Heart Day Ceremony every year. Every August, the estate invites wounded warriors and other military veterans to be honored on the grounds where George Washington created the first Purple Heart.
This ceremony often involves medal of honor recipients addressing the crowd with an inspiring speech that includes a little history on the Purple Heart, specific quotes from George Washington and honorary language for the recipients of the Heart who are in the crowd. The music for the ceremony is traditionally provided by the United States Marine Corps Brass band.
The town of Belmont, located in Massachusetts, also takes time to hold a Purple Heart Day Ceremony every year to recognize wounded warriors. In August of 2017, USMC Colonel Michael Callanan headed the recognition ceremony in the town’s public library. The Colonel was recognized for his service in Afghanistan and spoke to the sacrifices of men he had served with and the sacrifices of those in the crowd. This event was open to the public but specifically targeted recipients of the Purple Heart and family members of recipients who had already passed. This year, the National Purple Heart Observation Day will be held at the Belmont Public Library on Tuesday, August 7 at 10 a.m.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida holds a Purple Heart Day Celebration every year at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Wall at EverBank Field. Traditionally, they pay special tribute to different branches of the military each year. Last year, they paid special tribute to the Army National Guard in their community. The celebration is always spearheaded by Jacksonville’s Purple Heart Chapter 524.
Purple Heart Foundation
The Purple Heart Foundation holds races for wounded warriors nationwide on Purple Heart Day. In the past, these races have raised thousands of dollars to donate to wounded warriors everywhere in honor of their service and sacrifice. Several communities come together and participate in 5k, 10k, half and full marathons to celebrate and support these Purple Heart recipients. There will be more races occurring this year. You can find out when and where by visiting the Purple Heart Foundation’s website.
The town of Wakefield, Massachusetts is a special community that is publicly known as a Purple Heart community.
This year, the town plans to create a Purple Heart Trail around Purple Heart Day to honor its wounded warriors permanently. It will tentatively run through the center of the town and pass the Veterans Memorial Common. In years past, they have held a traditional Purple Heart Day ceremony that publicly recognizes all Purple Heart recipients living in the area.
Harker Heights, TX
The mayor of Harker Heights, Texas holds a short ceremony honoring Purple Heart recipients at townhall every year. They are also considered to be a Purple Heart City. This ceremony involved a speech from the mayor last year and an enthusiastic turnout of the city’s residents.
In the Purple Heart city of Fairbanks, Alaska, a group of U.S. Armed Forces members get together to honor other veterans who had been wounded in battle. Instead of a normal ceremony of recognition, the members of this Purple Heart Chapter organize a fundraiser to help hospitalized and disabled veterans and their families. They also take time to help educate the community on the needs of wounded warriors and the history behind the Purple Heart–and they sell Purple Heart-related items to help raise money.
Last year, the biggest Christian university in the nation, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, became the very first Purple Heart University. This special community of students and faculty was officially recognized by the Military Order of the Purple Heart for their support of military members, veterans and their families. Liberty University held a special ceremony to bring recognition to the wounded veterans in Lynchburg in their main campus building. They lit up their tower in purple, installed Purple Heart University signs at the entrance of the campus and created reserved parking spots in several areas on their campus for recipients and other combat wounded veterans.
The military community is a significant part of the Liberty University program and campus, and the Veterans’ Center hosts several annual events, such as a special Veterans Day Parade and other campus-wide celebrations to honor all Armed Forces veterans. They provide special discounts for military and wounded warriors have even more benefits.
The community of Clearwater, Florida started the Annual Purple Heart Day Banquet last year to honor Purple Heart recipients in the community. All the guest speakers were military, the food was provided and cooked by military chefs and military brass bands provided the music. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights hosted the banquet, and the speakers took the time to educate those in the audience who were not military members on the struggles that wounded warriors often face in today’s society. Many veterans spoke about PTSD, the needs of families left behind from Purple Heart recipients who took their own lives or died from their injuries and wounded warriors’ common problems with addictions to drugs.
The banquet was educational and helpful to the wounded warriors and recognized, thanked and honored all Purple Heart recipients there. They plan on holding their 2nd Annual Purple Heart Day Banquet this year at the Human Rights Center.