Purple Heart Day New Mexico

Las Cruces – Gov. Bill Richardson has proclaimed Friday as "Purple Heart Day."

Richardson said he joins New Mexicans as they pause to give thanks to the men and women who have been hurt or killed while defending the nation.

The Purple Heart, the oldest military decoration in the world, is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who is wounded, killed or who died as a result of a combat injury.

More than a third of the 1.5 million recipients nationwide are still living. In New Mexico, there are more than 3,500 surviving Purple Heart recipients.

The award traces its beginnings to 1782, when then-Commander in Chief of the Continental Army Gen. George Washington designed a new badge of distinction to honor enlisted men and noncommissioned officers for meritorious action in combat.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.