Most West Virginians have heard of the Purple Heart; however, some may not be aware of what it means to those who've earned it and, in turn, of what those who wear it mean to this great nation.
Just last year, the West Virginia Legislature designated West Virginia a "Purple Heart State." As we take time to recognize national Purple Heart Day this week, I wonder what that designation means to you.
The "Purple Heart State" resolution came as a result of our state's efforts to recognize and honor the sacrifices made by those who have been wounded in combat, those who have been awarded the Purple Heart.
These efforts have come in many forms including scholarship funds, memorial highways, special license plates and proclamations from the governor, to name a few. We've made a great effort to show Purple Heart veterans how deeply grateful we are for their sacrifice.
Still, it is my opinion these acts of recognition do not, in and of themselves, earn West Virginia the title of a "Purple Heart State." Rather, West Virginians and the patriotism and gratitude we overwhelmingly express, is what truly makes West Virginia a "Purple Heart State."
The everyday acts of kindness that individuals show our state's men and women in uniform are what matter most. Like the West Virginian from Ripley who, for example, randomly found a Purple Heart Medal and, instead of discarding it, has taken action to locate its rightful owner. Or a home improvement store employee from Logan who, as a trained veterans service officer, talks with veteran customers about the variety of state and federal programs and benefits they may be eligible for.
Through these types of actions, each one of us has the power to show Purple Heart veterans and all of our service members just how much we appreciate them.
In honor of Purple Heart Day, I encourage all West Virginians to remember our most courageous men and women, and in some small way, show a veteran your appreciation and help ensure West Virginia remains true to her title as a "Purple Heart State."
Secretary Rick Thompson
West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance