A Beacon of Hope In The Darkness and Giving Respect To Our Purple Heart Recipients . . . It’s a Big Day

Aug 7th

There are days filled with silly holidays, and some that commemorate important topics.  I have chosen to ignore the silly today to focus on two that are very important not only to me, but hopefully to many of you as well.  The one silly one would have, in my opinion, taken the focus away from the importance of these others.

National Lighthouse Day – Today we honor and commemorate a beacon of light that symbolizes safety and security for ships at sea.  Recognizing the importance of lighthouses. Through an Act of Congress, the Federal Government took over responsibility for building and operating our nation’s lighthouse on August 7,1789.  Throughout maritime history, lighthouses have shined their powerful, sweeping lights through the fog and storms, allowing all kinds of ships to find their way back to port during bad weather.  As GPS and radar have begun to be used so frequently, lighthouses have taken a back seat to guiding ships to port.  They still remain the universal symbol of safe harbor to ships and communities that rely on the sea for their livelihood.   To me though, lighthouses are so symbolic of something bigger and more amazing than sending out a beacon of light or a loud horn into the fog.  We wander through life, making our way through the storms of confusion, societal expectations, home responsibilities, spiritual quagmires and sometimes – especially lately – it gets difficult to make our way through the disinformation being thrown at us in an attempt to take our attention away from what is really happening in the world.  That distraction takes our focus off of what we are supposed to be doing, what our direction should be, and what we should be doing with our own lives as things spin out of control.  God is that beacon of light though, and He sent His word to keep us grounded, to sound the alarm into the fog we wander through.  As I sit here typing this, my windows are open, and I see the early morning fog swirling in and out of the trees, having made its way up the hill from the water.  In the distance I can hear the mournful song of the fog horn at the lighthouse on the point.  What a wonderful reminder to keep the attention on the One who will bring us through the fog, and get us through any struggles we face.


Purple Heart Day – Do you know when The Purple Heart was created and by whom?  Well, you will after today. . .The Purple Heart’s history reaches back to the time toward the end of the American Revolution.  The Continental Congress had forbidden General George Washington from granting commissions and promotions in rank to recognize merit.  He wanted to though, particularly among the enlisted soldiers, so on August 7, 1782 he ordered the establishment of the Badge of Military Merit:

“… The General ever desirous to cherish virtuous ambition in his soldiers, as well as to foster and encourage every species of Military merit directs whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings, over his left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding.”

This award was given only to enlisted men, and granted them the distinction of being permitted to pass all guards and sentinels, along with the commissioned-officers.  The names of those who received this award were to have been kept in a “Book of Merit”, which has never been recovered.  (What a sad loss of amazing historical significance!)  There are three known recipients of the Badge of Military Merit . . . Sergeant Elijah Churchill, 2nd Continental Dragoons; Sergeant William Brown, 2nd Connecticut Regiment, and Sergeant Daniel Bissel, 2nd Connecticut Continental Line Infantry.  Washington stated that the award was to be a permanent one, but once the Revolution ended, the Badge of Merit was all but forgotten until the 20th century.  In 1918 General John J “Blackjack” Pershing suggested a need for an award of merit, but it wasn’t until 1932 that the Purple Heart was created in recognition of Washington’s ideals, and for the bicentennial of his birth.  General Order No. 3 announced the establishment of the award:
“…By order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart, established by General George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the War of the Revolution is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.
By order of the Secretary of War:
Douglas MacArthur
General, Chief of Staff
And so it was, that on May 28, 1932, 138 World War I veterans were awarded their Purple Hearts at Temple Hill, in New Windsor, NY. Temple Hill was the site of the New Windsor Cantonment, which was the final encampment of the Continental Army in the winter of 1782-1783. Today, the National Purple Heart continues the tradition begun in 1932, of honoring veterans who have earned the Purple Heart.  It has gone through many changes with respect to the criteria for being awarded though.  At first it was exclusively awarded to Army and Army Air Corps personnel, and could not be awarded posthumously to the next of kin.  In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order that allowed the Navy to award the Purple Heart to Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel.  In that same year, the Purple Heart was made available for posthumous award to any member of the military killed on or after December 7, 1941. The Purple Heart was originally awarded for meritorious service, and being wounded was one portion of consideration for merit.  When the Legion of Merit was created in 1942, the award of the Purple Heart for merit was unnecessary and was therefore discontinued.  As regulations require, 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, killed, or has died after being wounded.

Do you know anyone who has been awarded The Purple Heart?  Have you really given much thought to that award, what they went through during their service and their struggle afterward?  So many people just nod in brief acknowledgement, but they don’t really take to heart the depth of meaning and sacrifice went into someone being given this award.  Our freedom has been bought and paid for with these soldier’s blood and pain, their suffering and survival, or loss.  Give it more than lip service, more than a mere acknowledgement.  Thank our soldiers, be grateful for their willingness to put their lives, their health and their futures on the line for us – for even the stupid who walk among us have been given the right to do so by the sacrifice of these men and women.

This Day in History
1782 – The “Order of the Purple Heart” is created by President George Washington (1782)
1789 – Through an Act of Congress, the Federal Government takes over the creation and maintenance of the nations’ lighthouses.
Food Celebration of the Day

National Panini Month – Why eat a cold sandwich when you can create one that’s hot, toasty and full of melted goodness? I can honestly say my very favorite Panini ever is the Caprese!  OH MY GOODNESS it’s delicious!  ooey gooey melted fresh mozzarella, fresh tomato and the amazing flavor of fresh picked basil, all on a crispy toasted focaccia bread . . . YUM!   There are lots of delicious Panini’s though – pretty much anything you put on a “normal” sandwich can be made into a Panini.  Let your imagination be your guide.

Well, may your day be filled with the wonder of learning something new, the joy of appreciating our rich history and the anticipation of what today may bring.  Show your gratitude to a veteran and be grateful for the beacon of hope that we have leading our lives.  God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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