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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2016 Archives > Mayor Brown Honors Local Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart

Mayor Brown Honors Local Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart

November 10 – Mayor Byron W. Brown today welcomed a group of Purple Heart recipients to City Hall to observe Veterans Day and to commemorate Buffalo’s Status as a Purple Heart City.

“It is a great honor to welcome these brave men here today as the Nation prepares to observe Veterans Day. Our military, whether at war, or aiding the nation at times of natural disasters or civil unrest, is the most important defense in safe-guarding our American principles and the belief that all people should be allowed to live in the pursuit of peace and happiness,” Mayor Brown said.

“Each of these men suffered grave physical wounds in service to our country, for which they were awarded the Purple Heart. We are eternally grateful for their personal sacrifices, and those of all military veterans and active serviceman and women, who maintain America’s status as the land of the free. I’m also extremely proud that Buffalo holds the designation as a Purple Heart City,” Mayor Brown added.

Joining Mayor Brown for the commemoration was Russell Ward, a Vietnam War veteran and Senior Vice Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 187, who was seriously wounded in the Vietnam War’s 1968 Tet Offensive.

“Purple Heart recipients and members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart are representative of all Americans.  We are from all walks of life, all races, all creeds, men and women, who are united in a single cause - service to our nation.  Some of us didn’t make it back home, and the rest of us will forever bear the scars of combat,” Senior Vice Commander Ward said.

During his tenure, Mayor Brown has actively supported initiatives for veterans including:
- Answering First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to end veteran homelessness via the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in Western New York, which culminated in success last month;
- Reserving 25 percent of slots in the Mayor’s Summer Youth employment program for children of veterans;
- Working to establish Buffalo’s Veterans One-Stop Center, which offers a suite of services to veterans and their families;
- Rededication of the Katyn Forest Massacre memorial sculpture, located in the lobby of City Hall, in honor of Polish-American WWII veterans and their families;
- Targeting veterans for recruitment with the Buffalo Police and Fire departments;
- Earmarking City of Buffalo funds to leverage funds to construct affordable homes for veterans and their families;
- City of Buffalo support for the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park;
- Participating in various veteran appreciation events, including the Annual Louis R. Palma Veterans Appreciation Tribute Award Ceremony.

The City of Buffalo will also commemorate Veterans Day 2016 by lighting the City Hall dome in purple on Friday night, November 11th, starting at 6 p.m.

Also joining Mayor Brown for the Veterans Day commemoration were: Chapter 187 Commander Kenneth Speaker, Junior Vice Commander Donald Buckley, Adjutant James Shaller, and Chaplain Robert Segool, all Vietnam War veterans.

Chapter 187 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart has 165 members, including veterans from WWII through the Afghanistan War.

A display, created by the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, was installed on in the lobby of City Hall in early October. The display has provided thousands of City Hall visitors and workers with a visual history of the one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces.

Introduced as the “Badge of Military Merit” by General George Washington in 1782, the Purple Heart is the nation’s oldest military award. In military terms, the award had “broken service,” as it was ignored for nearly 150 years until it was re-introduced on February 22, 1932, on the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth.

The heart-shaped medal featuring a likeness of George Washington, is suspended from a purple ribbon, which signified compassion and loyalty for soldiers who have been killed or wounded in combat. Its gold finish is meant to demonstrate the treasured value of lives lost and altered in defense of America’s freedom and principals, while three red stars and two stripes illustrate the blood that has flowed from the wounded, and two green leaves signify that as in nature, life begins and often ends much too soon.