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The American Revolutionary Institute Lunch Bite – The Badge of Military Merit

  • Date: 03/20/2020 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM  


Join Deputy Director and Curator Emily Schulz Parsons for a discussion of the Badge of Military Merit, the first military decoration for enlisted men and the precursor to the modern Purple Heart. Declaring that “the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is … open to all,” George Washington established the badge in August 1782 to recognize distinguished conduct and to encourage “virtuous ambition” and “every species of Military merit.” Soldiers honored with the award, Washington directed, “shall be permitted to wear on his facings over the left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth, or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding.” The record book of those who received the badge has been lost, possibly in the fire that consumed the War Department in 1800, and only two reputed examples are known. This example—silk with silver braid trim—is from the collection of the American Independence Museum, Exeter, NH and the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire; Gift of William L. Willey.

The presentation will last approximately 30 minutes with time afterwards for up-close viewing of the badge.

This program accompanies our current exhibition, America’s First Veterans, on view through April 5, 2020.

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