ORLANDO — The original Purple Heart was designated as the Badge of Military Merit, and established by the man who was then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, George Washington.
It was established by his order, from his headquarters in Newburgh, N.Y. on Aug. 7, 1782, when the Badge of Military Merit was awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers.
Today, Aug. 7, Orange County’s Board of Commissioners took a moment to not only recognize this historic date as Purple Heart Day, but to honor military personnel who had been wounded or killed in combat.
At the start of the county commission meeting this afternoon, the Orange County Government issued a proclamation honoring the local Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) and all Purple Heart medal recipients.
The county officially proclaimed today as Purple Heart Day, with a presentation in the Commissioners Chambers of the Orange County Administration Building in downtown Orlando.
The sacrifices that these brave soldiers made in defense of this nation, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs noted, deserve to be recognized and honored, again and again.
“We think a lot about military service,” Jacobs said. “We think a lot about the people in our history who had this country great.”
She singled out for special praise her friend and neighbor Earl Denton, who Jacobs said had urged her to run for public office long before she started her career in county government.
“Earl Denton has been a dear friend of mine for close to 10 years, and he was someone who encouraged me to get involved in politics,” Jacobs said.
But she also knows him as Lieutenant Colonel Earl Denton, a man who has served his country, was wounded in combat, and is a recipient of the Purple Heart.
There are many veterans like him in Orange County and across Central Florida, Jacobs said, and the residents of this region should never forget the courageous sacrifices they made to protect and serve this nation.
“We’ve got quite a rich history here in Orange County,” Jacobs said.
After the proclamation was read, Cathy Haynes, a member and supporter of numerous veterans and military organizations, handed out copies of the proclamation to veterans who had attended the ceremony.
Jacobs later gave recognition as well to students from Cypress Creek High School who had taken part in a youth empowerment program. Having the students in the same chambers at the same time as the veterans, the mayor said, gave this hearing a special significance.
“It’s very inspiring,” Jacobs said, “to know our past is bright — and our future is even brighter.”
Today, the Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. Military.
The forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, took the form of a heart made of purple cloth.
This is the oldest award still given to members of the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, N.Y.
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