Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns and the Military Order of the Purple Heart flew the Purple Heart flag Tuesday on the Church Street side of Old County Hall, making the venue the first county building to raise the Purple Heart flag as an ongoing display of patronage, hope and visibility for Purple Heart recipients.
Senior Vice Commander Russell Ward suggested the idea of flying the Purple Heart flag daily. Kearns was interested and supportive. In his suggestion to Kearns, Ward explained the Purple Heart can be a worthwhile symbol to fight against suicides, and important to restore hope among individuals at risk of suicide.
A press release said, “The Purple Heart flag can be viewed as a symbol to instill pride and restore hope to service members and veterans in Erie County.”
“Any flag flown, especially daily, at a county building, should have great meaning,” Kearns said. “I am grateful to everyone who has helped to spread this message of honor and hope to our veterans, who sacrificed so we could be free. If flying this flag restores hope to even one person who drives by, I will feel like I have done something right. I am honored to collaborate again with the Military Order of the Purple Heart. In my personal opinion, one of the greatest things we can do for one another is offer a piece of hope. I am grateful for the opportunity to do this with the Purple Heart Flag.”
Working with Luca Amarena, coordinator of building security – and a veteran – Kearns was able to get the flag up quickly.
The press release added, “This is a major accomplishment for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, as part of their mission is to ‘foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat wounded veterans and promote patriotism.’ ”
“The Purple Heart flag is a perfect way to honor those killed and wounded in combat of war and to help keep patriotism alive in Erie County,” Ward said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 54,934 veterans in Erie County.
There was no official record of how many Purple Heart veterans were in Erie County until Kearns created the “William J. Donovan Purple Heart Book of Merit” in 2018. Anyone interested in applying to be in the Purple Heart Book of Merit can contact the clerk’s office at 716-858-8367.
“The Purple Heart flag that will be flown daily and the ongoing Purple Heart Book of Merit will continue as a way to further awareness, visibility and honor towards the men and women who either lost their lives or were wounded in combat for all of us,” Kearns said.
Upon receiving a certificate from Kearns, Amarena said, “The footprints that I followed were the men and women who sacrificed their lives, so that we can live in a world of freedom and opportunity.”