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 April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed. Specific examples of services which warrant the Purple Heart include any action against an enemy of the United States; any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged; while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party; as a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces; or as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force. The Purple Heart is also awarded posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.
The original Purple Heart was established by George Washington in 1782, and was known as the Badge of Military Merit. It was awarded to three soldiers at the time, and while it was never abolished, it would not return to the public consciousness until 1927, when Army Chief of Staff General Charles Pelot Summerall directed that a draft bill be sent to Congress "to revive the Badge of Military Merit". While the bill was never passed, the action led to Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, initiating work on a new design a few years later. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General, was responsible for the redesign, which was christened the Purple Heart. By Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was commissioned on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington's birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Orders No. 3, dated February 22, 1932.