Like Memorial Day, today is a day to remember those who have dedicated their lives ensuring the freedoms of American citizens.
Today is National Purple Heart Day across the country.
A Purple Heart is given to military personnel who have been injured or killed while serving the United States. Current estimates of Purple Heart recipients are around two million people.
According to uso.org, the Badge of Military Merit (later becoming the Purple Heart) was created by George Washington in 1782 and is the oldest military award still presented to service members. The award was also originally awarded to those who had secured victories in battle, and was one of the first military awards to be given to lower ranking, enlisted soldiers or noncommissioned officers.
According to uso.org, the modern day Purple Heart was implemented in 1932, thanks to Army General Douglas MacArthur. In 1944, the award officially changed to be awarded to those who either died or were wounded in battle, and MacArthur was the first to receive the modern version of the Purple Heart.
In Ardmore, the celebration of those who have earned the Purple Heart will be held at the Veterans Affairs Office at 1:30 p.m. today.
Oklahoma Veterans Center Assistant Administrator of the Ardmore Division Marsha Huddleston is the daughter of Calvin Raines, a recipient of the Purple Heart after being injured in World War II in New Guinea.
For Huddleston, National Purple Heart day holds a special place in her heart.
“My dad was so patriotic, and taught us kids so much about patriotism,” Huddleston said. “Purple Heart Day brings back the memories of him talking about it.”
The VA Center is bringing in singer B.J. Howard, from Sulphur, to sing to the troops during the festivities.
Festivities will be in the recreation hall and everyone is invited. The festivities will last approximately one hour Huddleston said, giving the veterans and civilians a chance to meet and greet one another.
“It is wonderful, they (the veterans) have such wonderful stories to tell,” Huddleston said. “They are so proud of what they did and we are so proud of them. It is just amazing , I don’t think a lot of us realize what a lot of them went through. They are so special, everyone needs o come out and visit and talk to these guys.”