The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston is observing Purple Heart Day today. Museum Director Sherrie Colbert says this is the second time they’ve had such an event — the first was back in 2011.
“What we have planned is kind of an open house kind of atmosphere with a program,” Colbert says. “We just want to honor Purple Heart veterans here from the state of Iowa, and we also want to educate the public about the Purple Heart and the sacrifices of our veterans.”
The Iowa National Guard says the “Purple Heart is a combat decoration awarded to members of the armed forces of the United States who are wounded by enemy forces during combat operations on or after April 5, 1917. Originally established in 1782 as the Badge of Merit by General George Washington to recognize bravery and fidelity of Revolutionary War Soldiers, the Purple Heart is one of the oldest military awards given to members of the U.S. military.”
Colbert says they are hoping to get veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq to take part in this year’s event.”Because a lot of them really aren’t involved with some of these Purple Heart groups and some of these veterans groups. They kind of keep those things to themselves and I’m hoping that there’ll be some younger people there that maybe want to ask questions or maybe want to gravitate to some of our Purple Heart veterans,” Colbert says.
She doesn’t know exactly how many Iowans have been awarded the Purple Heart. “There’s a lot of them that haven’t even received their Purple Heart. We’re finding out there’s a lot of Purple Heart veterans that never received their medals even back from the Vietnam War,”Colbert says. “We hope we’re going to take the opportunity to help them start that process to get their medals.”
The event runs from 11 A.M. until two P.M. and is free and open to the public.