The Badge of Military Merit
Learn more about the 1782 Badge of Military Merit - the forerunner of today's Purple Heart decoration.
Recipients of the Purple Heart decoration receive free day-time admission at Mount Vernon.
On August 7, 1782, George Washington created three new military badges that would honor the service of ordinary, common soldiers. As Washington explained, his motives were to honor acts of bravery amongst his regular soldiers, because
The road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all.
In his General Orders of August 7, 1782, Washington outlined the creation of both Honorary Badges of Distinction and a Badge of Military Merit, because he was "ever desirous to cherish virtuous ambition in his soldiers. . ."
Reconstituted in 1932 on the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth, the Purple Heart now features the image of George Washington on its surface and is awarded to those wounded or killed in action while serving in the United States Armed Forces. In commemoration of those sacrifices and the award's connection to George Washington, we are honored to provide free day-time admission to all wearers of this decoration.