JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Military members were honored Thursday night across the nation and in Jacksonville with the most prestigious military honor -- the Purple Heart.

On Aug. 7, 1782, Gen. George Washington created the “Badge of Military Merit,” later to be called “The Purple Heart.” Thursday, military members in Jacksonville were honored on National Purple Heart Day, including several recipients who served during World War II.

“There’s not a member of our military who sets out each morning with the intent of earning a Purple Heart, for only fate can dictate that, but what these brave men and women have done each and every morning is to answer the call of a proud nation. They are our defenders of freedom,” said recipient Lee Brown.

The ceremony took place at Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Wall, where five World War II veterans were awarded Purple Hearts. One by one, the proud recipients received their awards, recognized for their wounds received while serving the United States military.

“We’ve shed blood for this country in defense of this great nation, so I think it’s an honor. It’s a small fraternity of people who have been awarded the Purple Heart, so I think it means a lot,” said Brown.