Last Tuesday’s Marana Town Council meeting saw the town make a proclamation declaring it a Purple Heart Town, as designated by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
The honor recognizes cities and towns that go above and beyond to support veterans.
Only two other Arizona communities, Scottsdale and Sierra Vista, and one county, Coconino, share the distinction.
“On behalf of, if I am allowed to say on behalf of, the over six million men and women who have been wounded in action for our country, a million and a half who have been killed in action for our country, we just want to thank you so much for what the town is and is doing moving forward,” said Marana resident and member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Mike Dyer to the council. “This is a great honor that you have bestowed upon us to make this a purple hear town.”
Dyer, a longtime teacher and coach in the Marana Unified School District, nominated the town for the distinction and spoke positively about the council’s role in earning the award.
“It is just a great recognition of all the men and women who have served,” Dyer said. “It is just so heartwarming that council was so willing, never asked a question other than what do we need to do to make it happen?”
Dyer presented the council members with replicas of the Badges of Military Merit.
“We can’t tell you how much we appreciate living in a purple heart town,” Dyer said.
Town Clerk Jocelyn Bronson read the proclamation aloud to those in attendance at the Council Chambers. Over two dozen veterans attended the meeting and Mayor Ed Honea handed out copies of the proclamation to those in attendance.
“The Town of Marana appreciates the sacrifices that our town’s purple heart recipients have made in defending our freedom and believe it is important to acknowledge them for their service and their courage,” Bronson read.
Bronson also explained that the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s mission is
To “foster an environment of goodwill among combat wounded veterans members and their families, promote patriotism, support legislative initiatives and most importantly, make sure we never forget.”
Marana has long prided itself on being a pro-military community and has recently broken ground on the state’s final veteran’s cemetery and dedicated a veterans’ memorial at Mountain View High School.
“It is nice to be able to give back to people who have served out country,” said Mayor Honea, a U.S. Navy veteran. “Now with this new veteran’s cemetery, we have a DAV unit here, a VFW unit here, which I belong to, and the purple heart group. It is nice to honor people who serve our community and keep us free and give us the opportunity to let us have what we have. I am thrilled about it. I just love when we have the opportunity to do things like this.”
The response from the veterans in attendance was positive as well.
“These people came back from World War One, came back from World War II, they came back from Korea and Viet Nam and all the other wars in between,” said Jose Baeza, the Disable American Veterans Southern District Commander. “It is about time they got recognized. Now that we’re a united body here in the United States, it is good to be recognizing these people. It is an honor that Marana bestowed upon the veterans and it should be that way around the whole state, the whole country. I think it is heading that direction.”
“I think it is awesome that Marana has recognized the Military Order of the Purple Heart and they have our full support,” said Bill Schaeffler, the post commander for VFW Post 5990 in Marana. “In 14 years here in Marana I have never seen an attitude against veterans here, so I can’t say that it has gotten better, but it has never been bad. It is awesome.”
Dyer concurred with Schaeffler.
“I can never remember it not being great towards veterans,” noted Dyer. “We have always had veterans and they have always recognized veterans, it has just been a great town to live in. I have only been in Marana for 40 years, I have been here just a little while and it has always been a military, veterans supportive community. It is just getting better all the time and we really appreciate it.”
The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in use, created as a badge of military merit by George Washington in 1782. It honors the brave men and women who are wounded or killed in combat and was the first American Service Award given to the common soldier.