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Purple Heart veterans from across Erie County join Kearns on National Purple Heart Day to unveil William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit


Wed, Aug 8th 2018 09:40 pm
405 Erie County Purple Heart recipients recognized
On Tuesday, National Purple Heart Day, Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns was honored to be joined by more than 50 Purple Heart recipients and their families to unveil the new William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit.
Started as part of Kearns' S.A.L.U.T.E.S. program for veterans, the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit is a collection of the names of veterans from Erie and surrounding counties who were awarded the Purple Heart for their service to the U.S.
The book is named after Buffalo native and leading advocate for the Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Donovan. Prior to becoming known as the "Father of American Intelligence," Donovan served in the U.S. infantry and was one of the first units deployed to Europe during World War I. Donovan would receive three purple hearts during his service in the military, and would go on to head the predecessor of the CIA during World War II.
The 2018 volume of the Book of Merit holds the names of 405 Purple Heart recipients from Western New York.
"It is my esteemed honor to be able to present the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit," Kearns said. "Through working with the veterans of Erie County, one thing that has always surprised me is the lack of records about our Purple Heart veterans. As the chief document and records holder for the county, I wanted to create a way for the names of Purple Heart recipients to be acknowledged and remembered.
"Our veterans choose to serve our country out of selflessness and courage, not for accolades and awards. The William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit will be a permanent fixture at the Erie County clerk's office, serving as a small way to pay tribute to the extraordinary men and women who made great sacrifices, and for some the ultimate sacrifice, for this country."
The 405 names listed in the 2018 volume of the Book of Merit were collected through voluntary submissions to the clerk's S.A.L.U.T.E.S. program, as well as from various offices and organizations, including Congressman Brian Higgins' office.
"Purple Heart recipients are brave and selfless in their actions to defend the liberty enjoyed by generations before us and generations to come," Higgins said. "This effort is a reminder of the great sacrifices they have made and demonstrates that we, as a community and country, are forever grateful for their service."
The Military Order of the Purple Heart Local Chapter 187, American Gold Star Mothers and American Legion Post 735 also contributed names of Purple Heart Recipients to the Book of Merit.
"Purple Heart recipients did not serve their country for the recognition or awards," said Russell Ward, senior vice commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart 187. "Many of our Purple Heart recipients are far too modest to let people know of their medal. I thank Clerk Mickey Kearns for his hard work and dedication on behalf of Purple Heart recipients in Erie County and for making this a part of the S.A.L.U.T.E.S. Program."
The unveiling ceremony opened with the American Legion Post 735 Color Guard. Purple Heart veterans and their families were in attendance, as well as family members representing a fallen veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
The Purple Heart is a U.S. military decoration awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military. Originally called the Badge of Military Merit, the Purple Heart was created by George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782. In addition to receiving a purple heart-shaped award, the honoree's name and regiment were inscribed in the "Book of Merit," which was lost after the Revolutionary War and the award was largely forgotten until more than 100 years later. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still awarded to members of the U.S. military.
The Book of Merit will be on display at the clerk's office, at 92 Franklin St. Along with the book, there will also be historical photos of Donovan, a portrait of Donovan, and a World War I-era Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters donated to the clerk's office. The 2018 volume will be on display year-round.
Submissions for the 2019 Book of Merit are currently being accepted and added to the record. That book will be unveiled on National Purple Heart Day, Aug. 7, 2019.

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