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Edward C. Morse's Purple Heart
Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Edward C. Morse's Purple Heart

Catalog #: 59458-N(1)    Accession #: 268315
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History


John R. Sinnock (Designer)

In May 1931, John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint sculpted the Purple Heart.

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 3.5" H x 1.5" W x 0.25" D

Physical Description

The Purple Heart is suspended on purple ribbon. The medal is made in the shape of a heart bordered with gold. Within the center of the heart is a bust of Washington. On top of the heart is Washington’s coat-of-arms.

Specific History

This Purple Heart was awarded posthumously to Edward C. Morse who was killed aboard the USS Arizona on 7 December 1941. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in the world in present use. It is the first American award made available to the common soldier. General George Washington created it as a Badge of Military Merit. The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded at the hands of the enemy. It is awarded posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.

General History

On 7 December 1941 Japanese aircraft flew over Pearl Harbor just before 8:00 am. The color detail was on deck to raise the flag at the stern at 8:00. The Arizona came under attack almost immediately, and by about 8:10 received a hit by an 800-kilogram bomb just forward of turret two on the starboard side. Within a few seconds the forward powder magazines exploded. This explosion gutted the forward part of the ship. The foremast and forward superstructure collapsed. Turrets one and two dropped more than 20 feet relative to their normal position. The explosion ignited furious fires in the forward part of the ship. The majorities of the crew members were either killed by the explosion and fire or were trapped by the rapid sinking of the ship. 1,177 of the crew died on the ship.


Country: United States
War: World War II
Service: Navy
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