WEST LIBERTY – Thursday evening was a celebration to honor local service members in the village of West Liberty.
The event allowed community members “the privilege to address those who selflessly gave so much to protect our freedoms and our country.”
The village and its community dedicated the Purple Heart Memorial at the Veterans’ Park to recognize and thank those Purple Heart recipients.
The event was called “Honoring the West Liberty Heroes: Thank You For Your Service.”
For many years the West Liberty Village Council and mayor have discussed some type of event to honor service members and Thursday’s event made that idea a reality.
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the U.S. president to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members.
The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington – then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army – by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers by Washington himself. Washington authorized his subordinate officers to issue Badges of Merit as appropriate. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.
In 1932, to mark the bicentennial of Washington’s birth, Gen. Douglas MacArthur spearheaded an effort to revive the medal. It was designed to commemorate bravery, but also recognized soldiers who were wounded. General MacArthur received Purple Heart number 1.
On Aug. 2, 1943, John F. Kennedy was wounded in action which resulted in a Purple Heart. He is the only U.S. president to have received the honor.
August 7 of every year is recognized as “National Purple Heart Day.” Winston Churchill said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
On Thursday, West Liberty’s community remembered the debt owed to U.S. veterans. The village council and mayor have “made the commitment to remind people as they drive through the village, that we remember every day the sacrifice our local soldiers have made by the recognition of the Village as a Purple Heart Community and the Purple Heart Memorial at Veterans’ Park.”
Veterans Park was renovated with the help of Shane Long, who repaired the cannon bases and installed and designed the layout for the Purple Heart stones; Eric Esh, who installed the lights for the memorial; and Jake Vitt of Logan Landscaping who created the beautiful space to honor service members.
The village was honored to have 14 Purple Heart recipients memorialized at Veterans’ Park with individual stones with the military rank, full name, branch of service, years of service and the date each received his Purple Heart. The purpose of becoming a Purple Heart Community and a part of the Purple Heart Trail is to serve as a reminder to those who use the road system that others have paid a high price for their freedom to travel and live in a free society.
“In our lives we have so much to be thankful for and tonight we thanked all of those who have served and are actively serving,” event organizers said.