Riverside now a Purple Heart City -- and will post signs to show it proudly

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Credit: JIM NOELKER / STAFF

Riverside is now a Purple Heart City, a member of a group of U.S. cities that pay special recognition to members of the military wounded and/or killed in combat.

>> SEE: Map of Purple Heart cities

The special designation, bestowed Thursday night during the general session of the Riverside City Council, "recognizes that the community understands the veterans and that they may have veterans that have received the purple heart living in their city or in their community, as well as those who have ... died and received the award posthumously," said Jerry Ferris, department commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart for the State of Ohio.

The designation, he said, "shows great support for our organization."

Riverside, because of the designation, is now a part of the Purple Heart Trail, which commemorates military men and women killed or wounded in combat. Right now, Ohio has roughly 54 entities so designated.

Mayor Bill Flaute said, "Riverside has a strong relationship with the military being home to Wright-Patterson and the Air Force Museum of the United States. We would like to honor those who have received the Purple Heart by becoming a Purple Heart City.

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“We are the home of many military families, veterans, and retired service members. This designation is a reminder to us all that 'Freedom is not Free.' We deeply appreciate the sacrifices made for all by men and women who serve and have served."

As an added nod to the city and the nation's oldest battlefield honor, signs will be posted at entryways to the city that Ferris said will say, in effect, "we are a Purple Heart supported community."

Ferris said that since 9-11, things have gotten a lot better in terms of recognition of those who have fought in combat, who have served.

"We're talking about all the military," he said. The Purple Heart is a little bit different.... It makes a special designation -- it's an emotional situation -- not only for us, but for the city who recognizes that. As we drive through cities, we feel something that says 'yes, thank you so much. They support us.' "

FAST FACTS 

+ The Purple Heart medal is the oldest military decoration in present use

+ Gen. George Washington established it during the Revolutionary War on August 7, 1782. It was known then as the badge of Military Merit

+ There are approximately 1.8 million recipients of the honor.

+ National Purple Heart Day is recognized annually on Aug. 7.

+ Purple Heart cities in the region include Franklin, Huber Heights, Middletown, New Carlisle, Springboro, West Carrollton

+ Gov. John Kasich on Dec. 20, 2013, signed HB 459 into law, making Ohio the nation's first Purple Heart State

For more on the Military Order of the Purple Heart, visit purpleheart.org

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