Memorials across America are being erected Saturday as the nation celebrates Purple Heart Day. The Purple Heart medal has been around for more than 200 years, but the day is just two years old.
The National Anthem echoed through the Capitol courtyard Saturday in Tallahassee. That's where dozens of veterans stood proudly as a new tradition was unveiled. The first Purple Heart monument was dedicated to U.S. soldiers wounded in warfare.
SGT Wayne Ridgley, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, said, “I lost my leg in Vietnam, got a hole in the other leg and was stabbed in hand to hand combat.”
MAJ Leon Roy IV, retired from the U.S. Army, said, “I got wounded by a land mine in 1966.”
SPC Ted Pooser of the U.S. Army added, “I was wounded in Baghdad on October 7 by a grenade attack.”
SPC Pooser took shrapnel in both legs and continues to rehabilitate a wounded knee. The Tallahassee native returned home just in time to receive a standing applause at a dedication that soldiers say is long overdue.
While time has passed the nature of the job remains the same. Soldiers put their lives on the line for their country and in many instances are injured or even killed. It's a sacrifice they're willing to make.
SGT Ridgley says, “If I had to do it again I would. I'd like to be in Iraq right now. I'd be there in a heartbeat.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs donated the Purple Heart monument that sits in the courtyard of the state capital building.