Travel a Purple Heart Trail

Mike Foss

September 19, 2023

If you’ve ever felt at a loss to figure out how you can make a difference in the life of a Purple Heart veteran, you’re not alone. It’s also understandable. How exactly can you connect with heroes injured in the line of duty if you haven’t experienced something similar – or never served in the military at all?

Here’s the good news: A growing network of communities, highways, organizations, and others aims to honor Purple Heart veterans across the U.S. Your local area might even be part of the movement!

A brief history of the Purple Heart Trail

Since 1992, communities have had the opportunity to join the National Purple Heart Trail. The trail began as the vision of Frank Kuhn Jr., a Virginia-based member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, according to a brief history on the military order’s website.

You can start your tour at the trail’s origin at Mount Vernon, the burial place of President George Washington. Organizers chose this location because the predecessor honor that became the Purple Heart began under Washington’s direction.

Where you can find Purple Heart Trail stops

As you travel across the U.S., you’re likely to find numerous signs identifying communities along the Purple Heart Trail. These purple-and-white signs include an illustration of the Purple Heart award and commonly feature the name of the participating city and state.

Stops along the Purple Heart Trail might not have a lot of fanfare or activities, but they’re a powerful reminder of the brave men and women injured or killed in the line of duty in service to our country.

The next time you see a Purple Heart Trail sign, take a moment to reflect on these contributions that have impacted so many military families and secured your ability to live in a free country.

How to add your community to the Purple Heart Trail

Want to add your city to the ranks of the Purple Heart Trail? Start by contacting the nearest chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Express your interest in starting conversations about joining the Purple Heart Trail.

If your community agrees to move forward with becoming part of the trail, you can provide other services to celebrate the legacy of military heroes. The Military Order of the Purple Heart suggests activities such as:

  • Document stories of Purple Heart recipients in and around your community – and find places to share them with others
  • Ask your community leaders to create and read an official proclamation about the importance of Purple Heart heroes
  • Provide discounts and dedicated facilities for the benefit of veterans and their families
  • Dedicate an event, game, or local celebration to Purple Heart heroes

However you decide to participate, the Purple Heart Trail represents our nation’s collective desire to pay tribute to veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you for investing your time and creativity to show these heroes how much we care.