While presenting military service medals to a local Vietnam veteran Tuesday, Congressman Brian Higgins announced a proposal to more publicly recognize Purple Heart recipients.
Under the so-called Purple Heart Flag Act, such an official standard would be created and, as part of federal facilities flag protocol, displayed on specific days.
"Our bill would require display of the Purple Heart flag at national war memorials, national cemeteries, veterans' hospitals, the Department of Defense, State and Veterans Affairs on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day," said Higgins. "Raising the Purple Heart flag would provide a visual reminder of the wounds out warriors endured, and the soldiers who have laid down their lives, to uphold the liberties this nation was founded on and continues to hold dear."
The Purple Heart is the nation's oldest military decoration still actively distributed, presented to those wounded or killed as the direct result of enemy action. Its original version, the Badge of Military Merit, was established on August 7, 1782, while the Revolutionary War was still in progress, by George Washington while he served as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
While it was never formally retired, the original Badge was distributed only to a handful of men who served in the Revolutionary War. Veterans prior to the United States' entry into World War I may have instead received the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate, Army Wound Ribbon of Wound Chevrons.
By the late 1920s, a movement to restore what would become the Purple Heart found footing in Washington, D.C., and the award was implemented in 1932.
A Purple Heart was among the military medals and decorations Higgins presented to Roger Dearmyer Tuesday in Depew. The Army Specialist was wounded in combat while serving in Vietnam. Dearmyer was discharged in November 1967 and did receive a Purple Heart medal, but it was sent to him through the mail.
This Tuesday ceremony was arranged by Higgins' office to give Dearmyer a dignified recognition of his service.