While researching the last post, I found out something very odd about the Purple Heart:
During World War II, nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the estimated casualties resulting from the planned Allied invasion of Japan. To the present date, all the American military casualties of the sixty-five years following the end of World War II — including the Korean and Vietnam Wars — have not exceeded that number. In 2003, there were still 120,000 of these Purple Heart medals in stock. There are so many in surplus that combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan and United States are able to keep Purple Hearts on-hand for immediate award to wounded soldiers on the field.
Call me nostalgic, but I think there’s something very powerful about a soldier wounded today being given a medal manufactured sixty-five years ago, in the midst of the last armed conflict that America truly believed in. Don’t get me wrong: I know there’s a lot of World War II romanticism out there, and that a lot of it is misplaced. But it’s powerful all the same.