Purple Heart Monument Unveiled - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/21/04

Purple Heart Monument Unveiled

Veterans wounded in combat now have a new monument to keep their sacrifice alive through the generations. The Mississippi chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart unveiled a new monument Saturday at Camp Shelby to honor all recipients of the Purple Heart.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Armed Forces Museum Saturday morning to see the 3,000 pound monument, made of India Red Granite. For the veterans we spoke to, the ceremony served as a physical reminder that the service they gave to their county can never be erased.

"You put your lives on the line so others may put their children to bed at night and knowing that the brave men and women of the United States Armed Service are protecting us," Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck said to the crowd of Purple Heart veterans.

Tuck unveiled the new monument with Major General Harold Cross and described its significance.

"It was initially created as a badge of military merit by General George Washington, who had an intense appreciation for the importance of every soldier who fought in every battle. Purple was chosen because it is known as the color of royalty and General Washington thought of his troops as the highest ranking people," Tuck said.

Laurel resident Merry Tigert showed a picture of her father, Master Sgt. Benjamin Franklin Reynolds to Tuck. His injury dates back to World War II when shrapnel hit the foxhole he was in. Saturday's ceremony brought back memories for this purple heart daughter.

"Very emotional because of the love instilled in me and these other people for our country, and our service people and I wish daddy could have been here," Tigert said.

The national foundation for the Military Order of the Purple Heart donated the $6500 monument to the Mississippi chapter. For its 350 members the red stone represents these blood the men and women have shed for our country's way of life.

There's not a day goes by that I don't reflect on a lot of my friends that I knew through the years that were not as fortunate as me," Lewis Vargas said.

Lewis Vargas spent 20 years in military service. He served three tours in Vietnam as air born infantry and special forces.

"We need to instill patriotism the love of our country to our young kids, children, generations, so they will not forget the sacrifice of all these veterans that serve our country," Vargas said.

Tuck added that she's working with other lieutenant governors to help create a Purple Heart postage stamp that can further commemorate these military men and women.

The new monument sits right outside the Armed Forces History museum, which is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays.

By Nathan Mihelich

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