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Kearns honors 37 Erie County Purple Heart recipients

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Thu, Aug 8th 2019 09:05 pm

On Purple Heart Day, Kearns recognized local Purple Heart recipients added to William J. Donovan 2019 Purple Heart Book of Merit; Elma town supervisor raises Purple Heart flag & designates Purple Heart parking space

On Wednesday, in honor of Purple Heart Day, Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns recognized Erie County Purple Heart recipients added to the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Book of Merit for 2019.

“I think it is important to honor the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. They deserve to be recognized, and I am happy we are able to keep a record of our local heroes at the Erie County Clerk’s Office,” Kearns said.

He initiated the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Book of Merit in 2018 and plans to add to the book each year with new recipients.

Anyone who wishes to be added to the book or would like to add a deceased loved one, should fill out a form created by the clerk’s office and submit a copy of one’s discharge papers. A ceremony will be head each year on or around Purple Heart Day.

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 in one of the first units deployed to Europe during World War I. Donovan would receive three Purple Hearts during his service in the military.

The 2019 volume of the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit holds the names of 76 Purple Heart recipients from Western New York, which will be added to the existing 405 names added last year. The book will continue to be on display at the clerk’s office, 92 Franklin St., Buffalo. Along with the book, there are also historical photos of Donovan and a World War I-era Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters.

This year’s ceremony was held at Elma Town Hall with Supervisor Dennis Powers. In support of the ceremony and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Powers issued a proclamation naming the week of Aug. 7 “Purple Heart Week.”

During this week, the Town of Elma will be the first designated town hall in Erie County to fly the Purple Heart flag. This year was also special because a Purple Heart parking space was officially designated in order to show support for Erie County’s wounded warriors.

“The Town of Elma is honored to be asked to host the Purple Heart ceremony,” Powers said. “Those men and women we honor today are ‘true heroes’ in the true sense of the word. These brave men and women who fought, served and sacrificed will be forever honored in history. Thank you to Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns for allowing Elma, the center of Erie County, to host this prestigious event, the only Erie County Municipal building to fly the Purple Heart flag.”

No formal record of Purple Heart recipients in Erie County existed prior to Kearns’ initiation of the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Book of Merit last year.

“It is my esteemed honor to be able to present the 2019 Purple Heart recipient names being added to the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Book of Merit,” Kearns said. “The lack of records on Purple Heart recipients has always surprised me. 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.”

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 Gen. 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. The award was largely forgotten for the next 100 years later.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still awarded to members of the U.S. military.

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