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Honored veterans could get own ‘club’

Now, McFann wants to see a Military Order of the Purple Heart form in Ironton so that area Purple Heart veterans like himself – those soldiers who took a bullet in battle or a wound in war – can be honored for such sacrifice and service to their country.

Monday, December 06, 1999

Now, McFann wants to see a Military Order of the Purple Heart form in Ironton so that area Purple Heart veterans like himself – those soldiers who took a bullet in battle or a wound in war – can be honored for such sacrifice and service to their country.

The Disabled American Veterans, of which McFann is a member, and similar organizations also are behind the effort, Lawrence County Veterans Services administrator Bob Griffith said.

"We have almost every veterans group but that one," Griffith said. "And those who have Purple Hearts deserve one."

The Military Order of the Purple Heart is a congressionally recognized group of veterans, with a headquarters in Springfield, Va. Chapters around the company provide camaraderie for Purple Heart recipients and organized lobbying power for veterans’ rights.

The order represents veterans before Congress, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and elsewhere.

Although McFann belongs to the order in Ashland, Ky., where he lives, a chapter is needed in his hometown of Ironton, he said.

"A lot of other medals we didn’t get, but the Purple Heart is a big deal," he said. "I about lost my life over there."

If men and women of the armed services did not risk their lives protecting the nation’s freedom and democracy, then the United States of America would not be what it is today, he said.

And those who have earned Purple Hearts should not be forgotten, McFann added.

It takes about 12 members to start a Military Order of the Purple Heart chapter.

There are five ready to sign up, and one of those people has promised several more he knows will sign up, McFann said.

Three Revolutionary War soldiers first received the Purple Heart, then called the Badge of Military Merit, in 1783. They were Sgts. Elijah Churchill, William Brown, and Daniel Bissell Jr.

Gen. George Washington was its designer and creator.

The Badge of Military Merit featured a "figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding" and was awarded for "any singularly meritorious action."

It permitted recipients to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. And, the honoree’s name and regiment were inscribed in a Book of Merit.

What Washington wrote in his orderly book on August 7, 1782 still stands today:

"The road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all," Washington wrote in his orderly book, Aug. 7, 1782. "This order is also to have retrospect to the earliest stages of the war, and to be considered a permanent one."

The Badge of Military Merit went unused until 1931, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur revived the award and had a new medal made. The War Department announced the new award on Feb. 22, 1932.

Presidents since have recognized the military decoration for and have extended eligibilities to include meritorious achievement.

For more information about forming the local Purple Heart chapter, call McFann at 1-606-324-6310 or Griffith at 533-4327.