Poteau now a Purple Heart City

Amanda Corbin
News Reporter

Poteau is now a Purple Heart City after a proclamation ceremony Monday evening during the Poteau City Council meeting at City Hall.

Poteau Mayor Jeff Shockley read the proclamation to a packed room of veterans, supporters and residents. The proclamation explained the history of the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart is awarded to those killed or wounded while serving in the armed forces. Signs will be placed at both ends of Poteau to show its declaration as a Purple Heart City. The declaration is a sign of respect to those who served. 

Mitch Reed, commander of Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 589, then gave Shockley a Military Order of the Purple Heart Special Recognition Award plaque for the City of Poteau that reads, “for your dedication and support honoring America’s combat wounded veterans becoming a Purple Heart City.”

Reed then addressed the crowd, and said, “I want to thank everyone who served this country.”

Reed’s senior vice commander, Don Delap, also addressed the crowd and encouraged veterans to join different veteran organizations in their area, such as Veterans of Foreign Wars or Disabled American Veterans.

Representatives with the local DAV chapter were in attendance, as well as those with the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 587, including Jim Frye of the chapter. 

What is the Purple Heart? The Purple Heart is specifically a combat decoration and it is our nation’s oldest military medal. It was first created by General George Washington in 1782 and was known as the Badge of Military Merit. It was first awarded to three soldiers in Newburgh, N.Y. The Badge of Military Merit was made of cloth and it is the predecessor of the Purple Heart medal.

The current Purple Heart medal was developed by General Douglas MacArthur in 1932. The new design was created by Miss Elisabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General. The revived form is of metal, instead of perishable cloth, made in the shape of a rich purple heart bordered with gold, with a bust of Washington in the center and the Washington coat-of-arms at the top.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. The heritage it represents is sacred to those who understand the price paid to wear it.

To learn more about the Purple Heart or the Military Order of the Purple Heart, visit www.mophhq.org.