The Purple Heart and the Gospel
“In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.”
On this day in 1782, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, created the “Badge for Military Merit,” a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched across the face. As a testimony to the award’s honor, Washington only awarded the medal to three soldiers.
The decoration was largely forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, unsuccessfully encouraged Congress to reinstate the award. Four years later, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of Washington’s birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington’s 200th birthday, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”
The Order of the Purple Heart, considered the oldest American military decoration for military merit, is now awarded to members of our armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy. I have numerous friends who wear this medal. All their medals and awards tell stories, however this one has a physical and mental cost that they continue to pay. These men are truly warriors.
If life awarded purple hearts we would undoubtedly all have one, most of us probably many. We have all suffered wounds from self-inflicted actions and wounds as the result of others in our life. Similar to treatments and therapy for physical wounds, thankfully there is a healing answer to the wounds we all carry…the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the heart of this good news is a narrative of creation, brokenness, and reconciliation. Simply put, it is a story of redemption. The great thing about redemption is that although our wounds and scars are earthly, they are not eternal.