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Purple Heart Community status approved in Longmeadow

Date: 9/3/2014

LONGMEADOW – The Select Board voted unanimously at its Aug. 18 meeting to approve the town’s designation as a Purple Heart Community, which will recognize recipients of the Purple Heart Medal with an official day of honor annually beginning Aug. 7, 2015.

“A Purple Heart town is a way of a town recognizing their combat wounded heroes, those that have been killed in action or died of wounds suffered in action,” Veterans’ Services Officer Paul Seifert said.

Seifert added that he spoke with Town Manager Stephen Crane about prior to meeting and Crane added the item to the agenda. 
“I think it’s an important designation to celebrate those who have made a sacrifice in the service of their country,” Crane said.

Seifert said the town’s war monuments for modern wars list the name of individuals killed action, many of which received the Purple Heart.
“As a community, we are grateful for the sacrifices our veterans have made, as well as the efforts of Mr. Seifert in having Longmeadow designated as a Purple Heart Community,” Select Board Chair Richard Foster said.

The designation status doesn’t cost any money for either the town or residents, Seifert added.

“It’s not like we’re erecting big monuments, you know,  or anything like that,” he said. “It’s more of just a recognition and it doesn’t cost anything to recognize.”

Seifert stated that he had been working with the commander of the Western Massachusetts Military Order of the Purple Heart Brian Willette to have the town designated as a Purple Heart Community.

“Across the country there are over 750 Purple Heart cities, towns, some even states or counties,” he said. “This is a growing movement in the country, just a couple years ago there was only like 100 or so. And so it’s really growing quickly.”

Several local communities are also Purple Heart designated,  including Northampton, Holyoke, Ludlow, Ware, Chicopee, and Granby.

“On [Aug. 7, 2015], you know, being that were now a Purple Heart community we’ll urge the people and organizations of Longmeadow to display the American flag as well as other public expressions for our Purple Heart recipients,” he added.

According to information provided by the Longmeadow Historical Society, the town’s only Medal of Honor recipient, Cpl. Edward Wilkin, fought during World War II and received a Purple Heart posthumously after he was killed in action by sniper fire.

The month before his death he single handedly breached a portion of Nazi defense bunkers, allowing his company to advance beyond the enemy lines.