The Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is an American military decoration that was the first award made available to the common soldier. It was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by General George Washington’s General Orders of August 7, 1782, and is the oldest military award to U.S. military members in current use.


An estimated 1.7 million veterans have received Purple Hearts since 1932. In October 2008, U.S. soldiers who died in Prisoner of war (POW) camps as long ago as World War II were authorized to receive Purple Heart medals. The changes in eligibility affect an estimated 17,000 POWs who died in captivity to receive the honor.


Per United States Army regulations, the Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died after being wounded.

The Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not “recommended” for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria. A Purple Heart is authorized for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an oak leaf cluster is awarded. Only one award is made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant.

The Foundation

The first Purple Heart Dinner was organized in Wake Forest, NC in 2009, and are now organized in cities across NC.

With every new year, we average honoring over 90 Purple Heart recipients, 11 Gold Star Mothers and 14 families of those Killed in Action, with over 900 people in attendance. Our purpose is to honor and thank Purple Heart recipients who shed their blood for our Country, while also honoring Gold Star Mothers and the families of those KIA.

To learn more about the SANDHILLS PURPLE HEART DINNER please visit:

Volunteers make the Purple Heart Dinner happen. Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Deborah O’Neil.