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#4529 Purple Heart Postage Stamps

Issue City: San Diego, CA 92199 Issue Date: May 5, 2011 Issue Series: N/A

On May 5, 2011, in San Diego, California, the Postal Service™ issued a Purple Heart with Ribbon definitive stamp (Forever® priced at 44 cents), in one design in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps. With the issuance of the Purple Heart with Ribbon stamp, the U.S. Postal Service® again honors the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the president of the United States to members of the U.S. military who have been wounded or killed in action.

The new stamp, designed by Jennifer Arnold, Washington, DC, features a photograph taken by Ira Wexler, of the Purple Heart medal awarded during World War II to 1st Lieutenant Arthur J. Rubin (1917-1978). In 2003, the Postal Service issued its first Purple Heart stamp. It featured a photograph, also taken by Wexler, of a Purple Heart awarded to Lt. Colonel James Loftus Fowler (USMC) in 1968 following an action on the border between North and South Vietnam.

On August 7, 1782, during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington issued an order that established a badge of distinction for meritorious action. The badge, which consisted of a heart made of purple cloth, is known to have been awarded to three sergeants from Connecticut regiments. Known as the Badge of Military Merit, the award was distinctive because it was available to the lower ranks at a time when only officers were eligible for decoration in European armies. "The road to glory in a patriot army," Washington wrote, "is thus open to all."

Although not continued after the Revolutionary War, the decoration was reinstated by the U.S. War Department (now the Department of Defense) on February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth. The redesigned decoration consists of a purple heart of metal bordered by gold, suspended from a purple and white ribbon. In the center of the medal is a profile bust of George Washington beneath his family coat of arms.
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