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General George Washington established the Purple Heart—then known as the Badge of Military Merit—238 years ago today to recognize meritorious service in action during our Nation’s war for independence.  Today, the Purple Heart is reserved for military service members wounded or killed in action.  On this day, we pay tribute to these men and women, who have suffered and sacrificed so much for our Nation.

The Purple Heart medal, in its present form, bears the profile of General Washington.  An American hero of unparalleled stature in our history, George Washington not only inaugurated this award, but he exemplified the uncommon courage, valor, and devotion to our Nation showed by all who receive it.

As we commemorate the establishment of one of our Nation’s highest honors, we also reaffirm our support and admiration for the remarkable heroes of America’s Armed Forces.  Each day, these men and women safeguard peace and prosperity at home and abroad and protect our unique American way of life.  Our Nation is forever indebted to these valiant warriors for their service and sacrifice.

The First Lady and I join a grateful Nation in paying tribute to Purple Heart recipients, their loved ones, and our Gold Star Families.  As one Nation, we pray for the safety of our country’s men and women in uniform—both past and present—and commit to honoring their legacy of service now and for generations to come.