By Terri Ferguson Smith
County officials unanimously approved a request to designate Lauderdale County as a 'Purple Heart' county on Monday, following the request of state and local officials with the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Benny J. Duett, of the Queen City Memorial Chapter #803 and Mississippi commander, received the proclamation from Hank Florey, District 1 supervisor and board president.
The Purple Heart is the country's oldest military decoration and it is given to military service men and women who are injured in combat at the hands of the enemy, Duett said.
"I've signed a lot of proclamations down through the years, but this one is special. This recognizes the ones who offered their lives for their country. They answered their nation during dark hours," Florey said. "We also honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. May they not have died in vain."
Duett said the designation is part of MOPH's ongoing efforts to get officials from cities and counties throughout the country to declare themselves Purple Heart areas. Duett said the designation has further marked Lauderdale County as being veteran-friendly.
"This will recognize all the combat-wounded veterans and those killed in action," Duett said.
While veterans must have received a Purple Heart to be a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, they do not have to be a member in order to receive services the order offices.
"We have national services officers that represent all veterans with claims and disability claims with the Veterans Administration," Duett said.
They want to make sure that all eligible veterans are members of the order.
"We'd like to welcome any prospective members who may not be aware that we have a local chapter," Rick Powell, #803 member said. "They would certainly be welcome to join."
Duett said the proclamation will be on the Order's website for all to see that Lauderdale County has declared itself a Purple Heart County.
For more information about membership and services, call 601-483-5135 or go to www.purpleheart.org.