Wednesday | December 13, 2017
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Purple Heart monument set to be unveiled Friday

Big Island Chapter 731 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart will dedicate a monument during a public ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday at Hawaii Veterans’ Cemetery No. 2 in Hilo.

The 3,000-pound monument, made of India red granite, pays tribute to all Big Island recipients of the Purple Heart, which is awarded to U.S. service members wounded or killed in combat. Originally created by Gen. George Washington on Aug. 17, 1782, as the Badge of Military Merit, the Purple Heart is the oldest U.S. military decoration still in use.

Big Island Chapter 731 Commander Dale Wilson, a retired Army major who was wounded in the Vietnam War, said the ceremony will be simple and brief.

“We’re just going to thank the people who supported us with their pocketbooks to make this a reality and then we’ll have a Hawaiian dedicatory prayer and a Buddhist prayer and then I’ll close it with a prayer,” Wilson said Tuesday.

Overall, the cost was more than $11,000 — $7,845 for the monument itself and another $3,300 to ship it to Hilo from Dayton, Ohio.

“The local veterans’ organizations contributed a bit. A few of our members raised about $5,000,” Wilson said.

Other funding was provided by Walmart, Big Island Toyota, the Hilo Elks Lodge and individuals. Keaau Service Station provided a crane and crew to place the monument next to the cemetery’s flagpole.

The monument bears an oversized likeness of the medal. Inscriptions include a poem explaining the significance of the monument and the medal itself, plus a portion of the “Band of Brothers” speech from Shakespeare’s “Henry V.”

Veterans seeking membership in the Military Order of the Purple Heart must provide proof of the medal’s award with a copy of either their discharge document or the order of the medal’s award. Associate membership also is available to lineal descendants, spouses, parents, siblings and adopted children of living or deceased Purple Heart recipients, and the same proof is required.

The organization’s website is at www.purpleheart.org.

“We’ve got a great group of people here who do good things in the community,” Wilson said. “We just try to get out there and let folks know we have people here who’ve made sacrifices for our country, and not to forget them,” he said.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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