On July 13, 2014, American Legion Post 473 and VFW Post 5010 of Freeland, Pa., honored recipients of the Purple Heart with a dedication service. The dedication was hosted by Post 473 Commander Gerald Gaffney and Post 5010 Commander William DeFrancesco. Speaking at the ceremony were congressman Louis Barletta and Judge Thomas Munley. During this ceremony at the beautiful Freeland Public Park, a shining new monument was unveiled. Under the shade of the park's grand old oak trees, the monument was dedicated to those who have earned one of America's most honored medals: the Purple Heart.
Almost everyone, even if they have no ties to our nation's military, should recognize what the Purple Heart Medal means. Even so, many people today have no knowledge of what so many American veterans have gone through in our wars or what price these veterans have paid for our country. The Purple Heart is awarded to veterans who have been wounded or killed in action. These are veterans who have fought all over the world and have faced death day after day. Those who live carry their scars with them, on their bodies and in their minds. We should also remember that so many recipients of the Purple Heart never received their medals while alive. Theirs were presented to their families after their deaths in war.
A veteran never goes into battle wanting a Purple Heart. They know the cost of one is bloodshed and pain. Wounds and death come so quickly in battle. The veteran may never hear the sound of the bullet that enters his body. He does not see the mortar that sent the shell, exploding into hundreds of red-hot fragments next to him. He does not see the submarine that fired the torpedo into his ship. He does not see the artillery that fires on his airplane and sends it screaming toward the ground on fire.
The monument that was unveiled in Freeland on July 13 tells not only Purple Heart recipients, but all veterans, that the town of Freeland will not forget them. They will be remembered and cared for by Freeland's proud American Legion Post 473 and VFW Post 5010.
Joseph R. Barna
USMC, Korea 1952-1953, and Purple Heart recipient