09 August 2013

Program Celebrates Purple Heart History, Recipients

A program celebrating veterans who have received the Purple Heart medal will be held on Sat., Aug. 10, from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. at the Iowa Gold Star Museum, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa. A complimentary lunch will be served, provided by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Fareway Stores.

The medal was first created by Gen. George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782. Originally called the "Badge of Military Merit," the award recognized an individual soldier's bravery and fidelity. In keeping with that history, an image of Washington appears on the modern heart-shaped medal, and the words "for military merit" appear on the reverse. The award is presented to members of the U.S. armed forces, regardless of branch of service, who have been wounded or killed by enemy actions during combat operations.

For more facts about the Purple Heart, click here.

The "Purple Heart Day: Celebrating Iowa Veterans" program will be led by Navy veteran Larry Spencer, a Purple Heart recipient and former prisoner of war. Vocalist Shawna Beeman will sing the National Anthem. Pastor Craig Ferguson of the Johnston River of Life church will provide the invocation.

Speakers scheduled include:
  • Douglas Biggs, professor at the University of Nebraska, Kearney, Neb.
  • Tony Powers, former WHO-TV broadcaster, author, Purple Heart recipient, Vietnam War veteran
  • Matt Harvey, director of Fort Des Moines (Iowa) Museum and Education Center
  • Mary Ellen White, nurse in Vietnam at Long Binh, 1967
After the program, Powers will also be available to sign his books, which include mysteries featuring a Vietnam-era veteran protagonist. His titles include "Murder On the Opinion Page," and "1st & Dead"

According a news release, attendees are also invited to tour the museum:
The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum’s permanent exhibits tell the stories of Iowans who have served in defense of their state and nation, from the early settlement of the state in the 1840s to present day. An extensive exhibit honors the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, which holds the distinction of serving the most continuous days in combat of any division in the European Theater of Operation during World War II.
The museum is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except holidays. Admission is free.

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