SAN DIEGO – National Purple Heart Day recognizes and honors the brave servicemembers who were killed or wounded while serving the United States of America.

It’s the oldest badge still awarded to military members. Military Order Of The Purple Heart Sunny Jones Chapter 49 San Diego held a ceremony Sunday in Poway to honor Purple Heart recipients, as well as those no longer living.

It was the chapter’s first ceremony since the pandemic in 2019, so they also held a rose-laying ceremony to honor the members who had passed away.

“No one wants a Purple Heart,” said Robert Hernandez, senior vice commander with the Military Order Of The Purple Heart Sunny Jones Chapter 49 San Diego. “It’s a bittersweet day because you know you’ve been wounded you know everyone has been wounded here, we’ve all understand the feeling, but we’re all here to socialize together to have that comradery knowing that we have sacrificed for this nation.” 

Purple Heart Day honors the approximately 1.8 million recipients, both living and deceased. According to those who have received it, it’s an honor few will earn, but no one wants.

“Purple Heart Day is something that really hits home,” Paul Aguirre, a Purple Heart recipient, said.

Paul Aguirre said Purple Heart Day means not only reflecting on this recognition but also remembering the friends he served with who didn’t make it home to receive the recognition. 

“We are honored to be here for our fallen soldiers,” Aguirre said. “That’s what this day means.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom marked the occasion Sunday, as well. The politician took to Twitter to share his gratitude to those who have risked and lost their lives for the U.S.

“Nearly two million Americans have been awarded the Purple Heart – an honor given to service members wounded or killed while serving our country. On #PurpleHeartDay, we honor & thank those who have given all to protect us,” Gov. Newsom wrote.

The award was established as the Badge of Military Merit in August 1782, according to PurpleHeart.com.