How can we honor them this summer?
Memorial Day « D-Day « Independence Day « Purple Heart Day
Many people see summer holidays as a chance to head to the beach, vacation with family, fire up the grill, and take a little time off work. And while these things are all well and good, we see something different—we see opportunities to honor the bravest among us: our soldiers. We decided to take some time to reflect upon what each of these “summer holidays” is really about, and to encourage you to join us in honoring those who so greatly deserve it.
Part 2: Independence Day and Purple Heart Day
Independence Day, of course, celebrates the day the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Skirmishes, including the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, had been occurring for more than a year by that point, and a “growing majority” of colonists wanted to be free of King George’s oppression. While the original resolution to separate was not unanimous, it was eventually ratified by each of the original 13 colonies, and the rest, as they say, is history. And though celebrations in honor of that declaration have looked different over the years, our Declaration has been joyfully celebrated every year since.
The historian in me would love to share many more details (Who thought the annual celebrations should be celebrated on the 2nd instead of the 4th? What state abstained from voting for separation at BOTH Continental Congresses?), but instead, I’ll share how you can participate in the festivities! Wake Forest has a rich history of celebrating the Fourth. For decades, volunteers have organized and staged a fantastic fireworks display in Trentini Stadium with the incomparable Band of Oz ushering in the evening, followed by a Children’s Parade along historic North Main Street and art activities and games in Holding Park on the morning of the Fourth. A few things have changed recently, as the Town of Wake Forest is currently in its second year of hosting the events instead of the previous all-volunteer group, but the spirit of unity we share in celebrating our Nation’s freedom is always palpable in Wake Forest, and always fun!
«Purple Heart Day«
“Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the Purple Heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.”
Purple Heart Day occurs annually on August 7th, and is designated as a day set aside to remember and honor the brave men and women who have been injured defending our nation. The history behind the Purple Heart (see here) is unique, as it was initially established and awarded during the Revolutionary War, then was essentially forgotten until World War I. It is also the only medal a recipient does not require recommendation to receive, but rather is automatically entitled to receive upon enduring the prerequisite injury. Due to a lack of precision in record keeping, the realities of war, and a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973, it is not known exactly how many Purple Hearts have been awarded, but estimates indicate that number to be approximately 1.8 million to date.
Those in the Wake Forest area have a very unique opportunity to honor Purple Heart Recipients. In 2009, three of our amazing citizens co-founded the Wake Forest Purple Heart Foundation. Their plan was to host an annual banquet wherein the community could come together in recognizing and honoring the Purple Heart Recipients in attendance. Currently in its 11th year, the banquet is held the Saturday closest to Purple Heart Day each year (this year it’s August 3rd), and it is an incredibly moving event! In addition to the dinner itself, the evening features musical entertainment and guest speakers. Past speakers have included four-star generals, a colonel portrayed in the movie “Black Hawk Down”, a Medal of Honor Recipient, and other inspiring soldiers. The event is open to the public for the price of a ticket (just $20!), but is free to recipients and their families. The banquet has been such a hit that other towns across the state have asked for help in starting their own banquets, resulting in even more Purple Heart Recipients being honored. The efforts of the Foundation have also led to Wake Forest being the first municipality in the state to be designated a Purple Heart Community, the establishment of a scholarship for Purple Heart Recipients and their families, the monthly Flag Raising Ceremony held at Wake Forest Town Hall to honor deceased veterans, the erecting of Town limit signs prominently proclaiming Wake Forest as a “Purple Heart Community”, and the October 2018 hosting of The Wall That Heals, a traveling, two-thirds scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
Wake Forest is proud of its soldiers, past and present. We appreciate their sacrifices, respect their service, and honor their lives. Just a bunch of “summer holidays?” No…not around here.
Kima Commercial is grateful for each man and woman who has served our nation with honor.