In 1932, Americans celebrated the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. The American Independence Museum has several items in its collection that commemorate the Washington bicentennial.
The photo is of the Washington family coat of arms. Coats of arms were used for centuries in battle to more easily distinguish allies from enemies and were sources of pride for the families who held them.
In 1932, the War Department decided to commemorate Washington’s bicentennial by reviving the Badge of Military Merit, which Washington created during the American Revolution, and making it an official military honor.
The Badge of Military Merit was originally designed as a purple fabric heart. Washington determined that any soldier who had committed a “singulary meritorious action” would wear the Badge on the facings of his uniform over his left breast.
Three soldiers were known to have received the Badge during the Revolution. This is believed to be one of those original eighteenth-century Badges.