Reminiscing on our heroes’ dreams

Veterans’ Voices is a new column directed toward veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.

 

This story below is from a friend of mine that he wrote while laying in a hospital bed.


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As I laid in my hospital bed, a General approached, full of smiles and cheer, and said “Congratulations, you have earned a Purple Heart.” As I looked around the room, I was angry, and confused. I only wanted to be back with my unit in Iraq.


I was angry because, as I looked around, I saw young boys, who recently became men, who were missing thee limbs. One guy was missing half his face, another was missing both eyes, another would never leave his hospital bed… I saw what the enemy had done, and I was angry that I was not back over helping in the fight that would last the next 20 years! The Purple Heart was meaningless at this time.


After recovering, I learned more about the Purple Heart. I personally did not need, or want, an award for being wounded. For me, I strap on my reminder (a prosthetic leg) daily in order to walk. But the more I learned, the more I accepted and learned the love I feel for the Purple Heart.


You see, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award one can receive. It was created in 1780 and awarded to three soldiers that year. Since then, only 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded. What a small brotherhood. It used to be called the “badge of military,” but evolved over the years.


There are no limits to the amount you can receive. One soldier, Curry T. Haynes, received nine in total. There was one president who received a Purple Heart. That was John F. Kennedy.


The first female recipient was in 1942, Army Lt. Annie G. Fox. She received it during the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. Other famous recipients of this medal include James Arness, Charles Bronson, James Garnet, Oliver Stone, John Kerry, John McCain, George S. Patton, Chuck Yeager and Rod Serling. Some athletes that received it were Warren Spahn, Pat Tillman, and Rocky Bleier.


Nearly 2 million Purple Hearts join a brother/sisterhood that you cannot buy into, and few are ever in a position to earn one. To earn one, you must be wounded or killed in combat.


Today, many of these Purple Hearts sit quietly in a box or on a shelf, but their recipients memories remind them daily of their “award.” For me, the real award is being part of that brotherhood.


Today, I want to honor all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and to those that have spilled their blood on foreign or domestic soil while defending our country. May God bless you and yours, forever and ever, Amen.


— Justin B.,


Fresno


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August 7 is Purple Heart Day. The nation pauses to acknowledge and remember the sacrifices made by the brave members of our military.


Not just this day, but every day, stop a veteran and thank them for their service. I don’t mean to just thank them. But be sincere and genuine. They are the reason you can walk down the street and not be afraid to go outside your home.


Before I went to Vietnam, I took everything for granted. I never really thought about sitting down at a dinner table and having dinner with my family without being afraid. Watching television, taking a shower; I used to go lay on my bed in clean sheets, never giving this another thought. After I got home from the war, I looked at everything in a different light. We Americans have it made.


I know with all of the chaos in today’s society, it seems like we are never going to pull out of it. But we are Americans. We can, and will, do it. We just have to work on being UNITED.


So in summary, stop a veteran and thank them for what they went through. They might have been in a war for a year or more, now they have to fight the battle in their head every day of their life.


Any thoughts, email me at AboutVets@yahoo.com.


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— Royal D. Goodman, U.S. Army/Vietnam,


1st Cav/9th Infantry