By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Amid a garden thick with symbolically purple blooms, Wyandotte Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1136 hosted a Purple Heart Day remembrance Aug. 7 at Biddle Avenue and Superior Boulevard.
Master of Ceremonies, VFW member the Rev. Tony Darrington, a Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient himself, said Purple Heart Day remembers those who served and suffered in the service of their country, many of whom are no longer with us.
“The Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America is the sacred tie binding the veterans of all our wars, established by General George Washington in 1782,” he said. “Today, Aug. 7, is known as Purple Heart Day, which commemorates the 284th anniversary of the Purple Heart.”
Darrington said it was a day to remember not only the history of the medal, but the sacrifices that so many made to preserve the freedom of the United States.
Wyandotte City Clerk Larry Stec said that an election was held the Tuesday before Purple Heart Day, which is his responsibility.
“It wouldn’t work without you who gave so much for that to work,” he said. “So, for that, I thank you very, very much and hope we never forget those who gave so much for us.”
City Councilmember Kelly Stec said that without stopping and pausing to remember what this day means, it becomes just an ordinary Sunday.
“But this is Purple Heart Day, and we must continue to gather as community in these spaces to recognize the service of those who gave everything for their country and those who were wounded in action,” she said. “On behalf of the city of Wyandotte, thank you for being here.”
Marshall Prange, Commander of Chapter 127 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, said Purple Heart Day is a time to commemorate those who were wounded or killed in action during their military service.
He shared the history of the Purple Heart medal, which, until Pearl Harbor, was only an Army recognition.
Prange said Gen. Douglas MacArthur expanded it to include all injuries received during enemy action, and said 2.2 million Purple Hearts have been issued to wounded and deceased veterans.
He thanked the medics, nurses and doctors, 250 of whom received Purple Hearts while serving in the Vietnam War.
“Nurses and medics did everything in their ability to keep us alive, to be awarded our Purple Heart, and being shipped home,” he said.
Ron Allen, senior vice commander of the state of Michigan for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, who served during the Tet Offensive in 1968 in Vietnam, spoke as well.
“It means a lot for people being out here, to brave the heat, to just say thank you,” he said. “Those two words mean so much more than what you realize.”
Darrington, who is a pastor at Gospel Temple Baptist Church in Detroit, donated a $500 check to VFW Post 1136 on behalf of his congregation, in honor of the church’s fallen comrade, the Rev. Darryl Whitaker, an Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, who died in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.