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Letter: Region is proud to be Purple Heart territory

Region is proud to be Purple Heart territory

On May 14, members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 187 assembled in the Old County Hall with members of the County Legislature to have Erie County designated a Purple Heart county. The combat-wounded Purple Heart members then marched down to their Purple Heart Monument at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park to meet with Mayor Byron Brown and his contingents to designate Buffalo as a Purple Heart city.

On a personal note, my family had two uncles, Samuel Tripi and John Pieri, who served in World War I. As well, my father, John J. Ward, and several other of our relatives fought to preserve America’s freedoms in World War II. In 1966, I was drafted into the Army, serving in the Vietnam War. I was wounded during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Continuing the tradition, my grandson, Andrew Ward, served and received injuries in Afghanistan. I have no doubt there will be more defenses to preserve our American freedoms and principles.

What does being designated a Purple Heart city mean? It means the government of Erie County and the City of Buffalo recognize the sacrifices of their sons and daughters who have been killed or combat-wounded during wartime to keep America free from our enemies. Erie County and Buffalo now take their place with the estimated 979 other cities, towns and counties across America that have been designated as Purple Heart territories.

This year, I will, like so many other active servicemen, veterans, families and proud citizens, observe Memorial Day with great honor and pride. Certainly we must all realize our military, whether at war, natural disasters or civil unrest, is our most singular-important defense to our American principles and the belief that all people should be allowed to live in the pursuit of peace and happiness.

Russell D. Ward