The Purple Heart was first instituted by George Washington in 1782 to recognize "any singularly meritorious action by his soldiers." There are only three know recipients of the award from then until 1932 when, on George Washington's birthday - February 22, the War Department issued General Order No. 3 establishing the Purple Heart Award:
By order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart established by General George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the War of the Revolution, is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements. By Order of the Secretary War Douglas MacArthur General Chief of Staff
From then until 1942 the Purple Heart was only awarded to Army personnel. An executive Order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt retroactively authorized the award for all troops from December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day) and on. In 1952 President Harry S. Truman retroactively authorized the award to include April 5, 1917 making WWI veterans eligible for the award. Since then there have been a number of subsequent additions to award eligibility. For a more complete history of the award see http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/purple-heart.pdf.
The Purple Heart is ranked immediately behind the bronze star and ahead of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal in order of precedence. It is one of the awards protected by the Stolen Valor Act of 2013.
To see a three minute youtube video about the history of the Purple Heart click here.
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor commemorates the extraordinary sacrifices of America's servicemen and servicewomen who were killed or wounded in combat. The mission of the Hall of Honor is to collect and preserve the stories of Purple Heart recipients from all branches of service and across generations to ensure that all recipients are represented.
THE MISSION OF the Military Order of the Purple Heart is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among Combat Wounded Veterans, promote Patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives, and most importantly, provide service to all veterans and their families.
"MOPH is to undertake a Pro-Active Representation in all forums of public opinion that will consistently seek to improve the status and stature of its Veteran Members, their dependents, families and survivors."