The Badge of Military Merit established by George Washington on August 7, 1782, was revived as the Purple Heart by War Department General Orders Number 3 on February 22, 1932.
The Purple Heart has been in effect since April 5, 1917; however, retroactive awards for qualifying service prior to April 5, 1917 have been made (the earliest retroactive awards were made for wounds received in the Civil War).
The Purple Heart may be awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the Armed Forces, has been wounded, killed, or who has died or may die of wounds received in armed combat or as a result of an act of international terrorism.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
The Purple Heart is worn after the Bronze Star Medal and before the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
DESIGNER AND SCULPTOR
The overall design of the Purple Heart was specified by the War Department. The models for the medal were sculpted by John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint.
On a purple heart within a bronze-gilt border, a profile head in relief of General George Washington in military uniform. Above the heart is the shield of General Washington's Coat of Arms between two sprays of leaves in green enamel. George Washington's profile was selected for use on this medal to commemorate his founding of the Badge of Military Merit.
Below the shield and leaves at the top of the medal, there is a raised bronze heart with the inscription in relief, FOR MILITARY MERIT. The inscription was selected to provide a linkage with George Washington's Badge of Military Merit.
The ribbon is purple edged in white. The colors were selected because George Washington's original Badge of Military Merit was a purple heart edged in white.