On August 7, 1782, George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit award to honor enlisted men deserving of recognition. This award was basically forgotten after the Revolutionary War.
In 1932, Chief of Staff of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, changed the name from the Badge of Military Merit to the Purple Heart, which was to be awarded to those who received wounds due to enemy action. By 1942 it was to be awarded to those wounded or killed in battle.
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Association of the United States Army