Salem receives Purple Heart City designation

Thursday, June 2, 2016
Members of the Salem VFW and Salem Mayor Daniel Busch accept a plaque from Everett Evans, Jonesboro VFW Commander for being designated as the newest Purple Heart City in Arkansas.

The City of Salem became a Purple Heart City on May 26 during a presentation at the Salem City Hall.

Members of the Salem VFW, Salem City Council and residents of Salem were present as Mayor Daniel Busch received a plaque on behalf of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Department of Arkansas proclaiming that Salem was the newest Purple Heart City in Arkansas. The Proclamation, among other things, states that "citizens of our country have received the Purple Heart Medal as a result of being wounded while engaged in combat with an enemy" and expresses the city's desire to "remember and recognize veterans who are recipients of the Purple Heart Medal" and to "proclaim Salem to be a Purple Heart City honoring the service and sacrifice of our nation's men and women in uniform wounded or killed by the enemy while serving to protect our freedoms."

Everett Evans, Commander of the Jonesboro VFW Chapter 708 presented the plaque to Busch. Jonesboro was the first Purple Heart City in Arkansas in 2011. As of April of 2016, Salem is the 26th city in Arkansas to become a Purple Heart City.

"It's a great honor for me to present this plaque and I'm glad to see Salem join the family. We praise you for your effort and the sacrifices that the veterans of Salem have made to free this country. I salute you," Evans said.

"Its really a big honor for the city of Salem to recognize veterans, especially Purple Heart recipients. A lot of people don't know about the Purple Heart. When people see the sign upon entering the city limits, it will catch their eye and they will know that the city of Salem recognizes their veterans, especially their Purple Heart recipients." Evans continued.

According to Purple Heart Department of Arkansas, the Purple Heart is specifically a combat decoration and it is our nation's oldest military medal. The Purple Heart was created by General George Washington in 1782 and originally known as the Badge of Military Merit. It was first awarded to three enlisted soldiers in Newburgh, N.Y., and then faded from use shortly after.

The award was re-established in 1932 by the president per War Department General Order 3 and renamed the Purple Heart. Criteria for presentation stated it is awarded to members of the US Armed Forces who are wounded by an instrument of war at 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.

In 1973, and again in 2015, the criteria for awarding the Purple Heart was amended to include US service members being wounded or killed by attacks or acts committed by terrorist groups against the US or countries friendly to the US.

Freedom is not free. The heritage the Purple Heart medal represents is sacred to those who understand the price paid to wear it. It was won by the blood shed on the battlefields of the American colonies when we obtained our independence from England. It has been guaranteed by the blood shed on the battlefields of Europe, the Pacific, Southeast Asia and most recently the Middle East, to ensure that all Americans might continue to enjoy the freedom we fought to preserve. The designation of Salem as a Purple Heart City is fitting and patriotic expression of gratitude for the cost of freedom.

The purpose of the Purple Heart Trails and Cities Program, established in 1992, is to create a symbolic and honorary system of cities, highways, bridges or other monuments that give tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

It accomplishes this goal by placing a visual reminder to those who have paid the highest cost for our freedom to live and travel in a free society. Signs or monuments have been placed at various locations throughout the US and its territories designating those cities, highways or bridges where legislature or proclamations have been passed to designate them as a Purple Heart City.

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