The military plays an important role in Southern Arizona. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Pinal Air Park are home to thousands of active and reserve members of the armed forces whose job it is to keep our country safe and free. We have a number of veterans and active service members who live in Marana.

Last week, our town council took action to further prove that Marana cares about our veterans by voting to become one of three Purple Heart cities or towns in the state. The distinction is shared by communities across the nation that go above and beyond to show their appreciation for those who have bravely served our country.

The Purple Heart is the oldest and most prestigious military decoration in use. It was created as a badge of merit by George Washington in 1782 and honors courageous men and women who are wounded or killed in combat.

The town joins Scottsdale and Sierra Vista as the only Purple Heart communities in the state. Flagstaff will join the group not long after our council action. Coconino is the one Purple Heart County. We are proud to be in their company.

Our council and staff continually show their commitment to the military. For example, Marana next year will become home to a veterans’ cemetery. The town fully supports the project and realizes the importance it plays in the lives of local veterans. Before this cemetery opens, the closest ones are in Sierra Vista and the Phoenix metro region. With a significant military presence in our area, the new cemetery in Marana will fill a tremendous need.

As a veteran of the U.S. Navy Seabees, I was fortunate to meet people who positively influenced my life and helped me get where I am today. Joining the Navy was an important step in my life and I am thankful every day to have had the opportunity to serve.

Our council and staff wish you the best of holidays and ask that you take a little time to think about the men and women of our military who are committed to our safety. Some make the ultimate sacrifice in protecting our many freedoms and their bravery should be celebrated. Becoming a Purple Heart town is one of the many ways Marana shows how much the military means to everyone who lives and does business here.

 (Editor’s Note: Ed Honea is Marana’s mayor.)

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