County Clerk celebrated veterans added to the William J. Donovan 2023 Purple Heart Book of Merit and announces Old County Hall will be lit up purple in support of Purple Heart Appreciation Day, held annually on August 7th
Erie County, NY- In honor of Purple Heart Appreciation Day, Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns recognized Erie County Purple Heart Recipients being added to the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Book of Merit for 2023. No formal record of Purple Heart Recipients in Erie County existed prior to 2018 when Kearns originated Erie County’s version of the “Book of Merit.”
“An estimated 1.8 million service men and women who fought and lost their lives or received life-altering injury protecting our great country and have earned the Purple Heart,” stated Kearns. “These selfless individuals come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and more specifically, from all across Erie County. While the majority of veterans do not seek our thanks and praise, I firmly believe we owe them both.”
National Purple Heart Day is observed annually on August 7th and dedicated to remembering and honoring the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who were wounded on the battlefield or lost their lives in combat operations.
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military. Originally called the Badge of Military Merit, the Purple Heart was created by George Washington on August 7, 1782. In addition to receiving a purple heart shaped medal, the honoree’s name and regiment were inscribed in the “Book of Merit” which was lost after the Revolutionary War and the award was largely forgotten until over 100 years later. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still awarded to members of the U.S. military.
“It is my esteemed honor to present the 2023 Purple Heart Recipient Names being added to the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Book of Merit,” said Kearns. “The lack of records on Purple Heart recipients was always a surprise to me. As the chief document and records holder for the county, I wanted to create a way for the names of Purple Heart Recipients to be acknowledged and remembered.”
The 2023 volume of the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit will now hold the names of five hundred forty (540) Purple Heart Recipients from across Erie County, with the additional twenty-two (22) veterans added at today’s ceremony.
The book is named after Buffalo native and leading advocate for the Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Donovan. Prior to becoming known as the “Father of American Intelligence”, Donovan served in the United States Infantry and was one of the first units deployed to Europe during World War I. Donovan would receive three Purple Hearts during his service in the military, and would go on to head the Central Intelligence Agency, during World War II.
This year’s ceremony was held at Old County Hall, home to the Erie County Clerk’s Office, in the Ceremonial Court Room, followed by a Purple Heart flag raising observance at the statue of President George Washington. The ceremony began with a welcome from County Clerk Kearns, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by World War II Veteran Dr. John Long, with the National Anthem performed by local lyricist George Miller. Kearns presented Certificates of Recognition and commemorative Purple Heart pins to recipients or their family members as the honoree’s names, branch of service, and war was read aloud.
The William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit is on permanent display at the Erie County Clerk’s Office inside Old County Hall at 92 Franklin Street. Along with the book, there are also historical photos of William J. Donovan, a portrait of Donovan, and a World War I era Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters donated to the Clerk’s Office. Submissions for the 2024 Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit are currently being accepted online at erie.gov/clerk/purpleheartform or by contacting the County Clerk’s office at 716-858-6787.
“I believe it is important we pay tribute to our military heroes who were injured or killed in the line of duty, then bestowed this national honor. They deserve to be recognized for their service and sacrifice and I am happy we are able to keep such record of our local service men and women at the Erie County Clerk’s Office,” added Kearns.
Additionally, County Clerk Kearns announced Old County Hall will be lit up purple, August 7-13th, in honor of Purple Heart Appreciation Day and in solemn recognition for all service members injured or killed in action.