What We Can Learn From Recipients of the Purple Heart
On Tuesday August 7th, the United States observes Purple Heart Day. The Purple Heart is the oldest U.S. military award given to soldiers who have been wounded or killed in action against enemy forces.
The first award of this kind was given to 3 Revolutionary War soldiers in 1782. Since then, it has been given to many honourable and brave individuals - individuals who we can learn a lot from.
Many of these notable recipients have persevered despite their struggles, including physical and emotional wounds. They have beaten the odds. They have survived.
With over 2 million Purple Heart Medals awarded to date, Purple Heart stories offer inspiration and motivation to live your life to the fullest. Let their stories move you and fill your soul with hope and optimism about the future. Let them remind you that things are never as bad as they seem.
Whatever personal struggles you are dealing with, know that you will get through them. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Fill your soul and open your mind. Look past the now.
Beatrice Mary MacDonald
Beatrice MacDonald was a nurse in the First World War. When she was working in a British Clearing Hospital in Belgium, a German aircraft dropped bombs from above. Beatrice was injured by shell fragments and even lost her right eye in the bombing.
Yet, she remained in the military and even continued to serve for the rest of the war.
Her determination and her drive to stand and serve despite what she’d been through is exemplary. She didn’t let any obstacle stop her from doing what she set out to do, which was to care for wounded soldiers coming off the battlefield.
Not only that, she was the first woman to be awarded the Purple Heart Medal. It was during this time that many women started working outside the home. The Women’s Rights Movement was in full swing with the eventual right to vote being granted to women in 1920. Beatrice paved the way for future female recipients.
Beatrice put her own personal wounds aside and attended to those who needed help. Her resiliency, perseverance, and bravery are inspirational. Her story teaches others to rise above their problems and to continue forward despite the odds.
Kristin Beck’s story isn’t so much about her Purple Heart Award. However, the award demonstrates her toughness and drive to carry on despite the obstacles she faced.
Formally known as Christopher Beck, Kristin served in the U.S. Army from 1990-2011. She was a Navy Seal prior to her transition.
Proving herself to be the toughest of the tough in the military, Kristin began her transition from male to female after her retirement in 2013.
In the past, sexual orientation in the U.S. military had been a controversial topic. The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy had queer and transgender individuals hiding their true selves.
With times changing, Kristen received immense support from her previous colleagues during and after her transition. Still, she persisted to become her true self. She strived for her own happiness despite the backlash she faced - especially the military’s lack of acceptance toward the LGBTQ+ community.
Kristin’s story offers inspiration and motivation to those that are hiding their true selves, whether it’s gender identity or the fear of speaking your mind. Going after what you really want in your life will lead to happiness - or at least a happier life than one where you are left wondering ‘what if.’
Don’t allow others’ judgements to cloud your own. Be sure and confident in yourself. Don’t allow fear to hold you back from finding the happy in your life. Aim to grow, change, and improve. Create your own path.
Bryan shipped out with the military to Baghdad on September 11th, 2001, the same day as the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
In 2005, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) left Bryan without his legs and his left hand. He underwent 13 months of gruelling, intense rehabilitation.
Despite his physical limitations, Bryan still partakes in rock climbing, snowboarding, skateboarding, and wakeboarding. He essentially has no limits.
We often build up our personal limits in our minds. We do this without noticing.
“I can’t.” “I couldn’t.”
We set them, then live by them.
However, we can break down these walls. They are only real in your head.
Next time you say ‘I can’t,’ think, ‘why not?’ What is stopping you? We cling to our excuses. Drop them. Explore your outer limits. Experience them! Think of Bryan - he skateboards and wakeboards without legs. So, why can’t you go after your dream job? Why can’t you go on that vacation? Why can’t you go after your hopes and dreams?
Who is stopping you? Only yourself.
Challenge yourself and challenge your limits. You can move past them.
Archie Joe Biggers
Archie served in the Vietnam War. He was injured by enemy fire but still led the assault into enemy territory. He was then injured a second time but again continued the assault. Archie insisted afterward that all his men receive medical attention and treatment before himself.
What can we learn from Archie’s story? No matter how many times you get knocked down, don’t lose sight of your goal. There will be challenges. Yet, you can push through these hurdles. Archie persevered. He showed determination and leadership. He put others ahead of himself.
Sometimes, we need to be selfless. We need to put our own egos aside. A reminder never hurts.
These stories are powerful. Take the inspiration and motivation they offer. Use it to drive your life and your goals.
This Purple Heart Day, remember those who have put their lives on the line and those who have lost lives to protect and save their country. Remind yourself that no matter how tough a situation may appear, you can and you will get through it.