On August 7, 1782, General George Washington designed two badges to be worn by enlisted men and non-commissioned officers. The first was a chevron to be worn on the left sleeve of the coat, signifying military service. To earn this badge, men needed to give three years of service with “bravery, fidelity and good conduct.”
The second badge, known as the Badge of Military Merit, was to be worn over the left breast, and was a purple cloth heart edged with lace or binding. The badge was given for “any singularly meritorious action”. Today, the Badge of Merit is known as the Purple Heart, and is awarded to men who are killed or wounded in military service. .
The first Badge of Military Merit were awarded to Sergeants Churchill, Brown and Bissell. George Washington, creator of the badge, awarded Churchill and Brown’s badges on May 3, 1783; Bissell’s was received on June 10, 1783.
After the Revolutionary War, the badge was no longer given. However, in 1927, the Army Chief of Staff, Charles Summerall, asked that a bill be sent to Congress to revive the Badge of Military Merit. Although his idea was shelved, in January of 1931, General Douglas MacArthur reopened the case. His object was to have a new medal issued on the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. The War Department announced the new award on February 22, 1932.
My dad received this medal from his wounds in World War II. I’m sure someone in your family did as well. Who was it?