The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. The medal has a long history as it was originally introduced by General George Washington as the “Badge of Military Merit” in 1782. It is the nation’s oldest military award medal. Only three Revolutionary War soldiers received the original honor medal, Sergeant Daniel Bissell of the 2nd Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Line, Sergeant William Brown of the 5th Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Line, and Sergeant Elijah Churchill of the 2nd Continental Dragoons, another Connecticut regiment.
For unknown reasons, the medal was not awarded again. In fact, it was General Charles Summerall who proposed a bill be sent to Congress in 1927, after the first World War recognizing these veterans who served our nation. Then in 1931, General Douglas MacArthur, Summerall’s successor as Army Chief of Staff, resurrected the idea of the medal.
Finally, on February 22, 1932 the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth, the War Department announced the establishment of the Purple Heart award. The medal was then awarded to those military members who have been wounded or killed in action while serving on or after April 5, 1917. It is estimated 1,800,000 Purple Heart medals have been awarded.
Therefore, because the Town of Matthews has a big heart for its veterans, the leadership applied for the designation of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, it became official with a ceremony held in town on Thursday August 2, 2018.
At the ceremony where a Purple Heart Town sign dedication took place outside of Bruster’s Ice Cream many of Matthews town dignitaries were on hand for the celebration along with members from Chapter 634, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Matthews American Legion Post 235 and Matthews Veterans Advisory Committee (MVAC).
The dignitaries and guest speakers included Paul Bailey, Mayor of Matthews and Tom Cannon, Chair, MVAC at the sign dedication. After the dedication a reception was held at Seaboard Taproom & Wine Bar downtown, Mayor Bailey, Former Mayor Jim Taylor, Mike Stubbs, Commander Chapter 634, Phil Mowry, Commander, American Legion Post 235 and Vice Chair, MVAC all made remarks to recognize the Purple Heart recipients attending and all veterans who were in attendance for their service to our nation.
Matthews has always been a military friendly community, however, with the Purple Heart designation the town has officially shown its commitment to our local veterans living in this area. The Purple Heart is ranked immediately behind the Bronze Star and ahead of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal in order of precedence.
We thank all veterans who have served and worn the uniform of the different branches of service on active, guard and reserve status as these men and women represent the best of our nation, as the freedoms we enjoy today have come with a high price. Freedom is not free, these patriots deserve our respect and admiration. Especially those patriots who have received the Purple Heart Medal for their valor.