Montgomery declared a Purple Heart Capital City|
by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs
6/7/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Honoring the city's population of wounded combat veterans, Mayor Todd Strange declared Montgomery a Military Order of the Purple Heart Capital City during Tuesday's city council meeting, making the Capital of Dreams the third city in the United States to adopt such a distinction.
"The city of Montgomery has a long and old tradition of supporting great servicemen and servicewomen in the United States military and is proud to be home to thousands of veterans and thanks them all for their contributions," Strange read from the resolution in part.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart is a congressionally chartered veterans' service made up of Purple Heart medal recipients awarded for their injuries received during military combat. The medal is the oldest combat decoration, first established by George Washington in 1782 as the Badge of Military Merit.
Behind every Purple Heart recipient is a story, said Maj. Gen. Walter Givhan, vice commander of the Air University and commander of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education.
"There's a story of bravery, a story of sacrifice and a story of service for our country," said Givhan. "So I encourage you, every time you come across a Purple Heart veteran, to ask them to tell their story so you can fully appreciate what they've done."
The decision to become a Purple Heart Capital City came in coordination with Gov. Robert Bentley's announcement Wednesday that Alabama would become a Military Order of the Purple Heart State upon approval by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Members of Montgomery's Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 2205 were influential in the mayor's decision. Former commander of the chapter and current financial officer, Robert Cole, said that Strange was "willing, eager and happy" to support the combat wounded of Montgomery.
Cole is a Purple Heart Medal recipient for grenade shrapnel wounds during the Vietnam War and currently resides in Prattville. He said the mission and responsibility of Chapter 2205 is to assist in the needs of any combat wounded veteran, ranging from Veteran Affairs benefits to vehicle maintenance.
Having Montgomery dedicated to those injured during their service is one way for citizens to become aware of their organization and provide support for their efforts, he said.
"I hope it brings forth recognition to Montgomery about its combat wounded," said Cole. "Our sole purpose is to assist combat wounded veterans from the battlefield to the grave."
He said he especially wants the younger service members who have returned or will be returning from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan to know they have friends in Montgomery who they can turn to for help and a listening ear.
"Our organization is a great place to help them feel at home and comfortable to talk about their experiences," said Cole. "We've all been wounded, having all received the Purple Heart and understand what they're feeling. They can talk, and we'll be there to listen."
Chapter 2205 currently consists of 168 members, the largest and fastest growing chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in the state of Alabama.
Tallahassee, Fla., and Topeka, Kan., are the only other cities to have adopted such a Military Order of the Purple Heart Capitol City resolution.
For further information about the Military Order of the Purple Heart, visit www.purpleheart.org.