Modified: August 6, 2021 4:17pm
County Clerk celebrated veterans added to the William J. Donovan 2021 Purple Heart Book of Merit and announces Old County Hall will be lit up purple in support of Purple Heart Day, August 7th
Erie County, NY- In honor of Purple Heart 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 2021. 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 Americans have earned that venerable award, however commemoration of those who earned the Purple Heart have been eclipsed by COVID-19,” stated Kearns. “This is just one more reason for all of us to take time to honor and thank the many service men and women who fought and lost their lives or received life-altering injury protecting our great country.”
National Purple Heart Day is observed August 7th of each year 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 ought 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 award, 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 2021 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 2021 volume of the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit holds the names of an additional twenty-two (22) Purple Heart Recipients from across Erie County, which will be added to the existing four hundred eight one (481).
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 heard the predecessor of the CIA, during World War II.
This year’s ceremony was held in front Old County Hall, home to the Erie County Clerk’s Office, and fittingly at the statue of President George Washington. The ceremony began with a welcome from County Clerk Kearns, followed by the raising of the Purple Heart Flag. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by World War II Veteran Dr. John Long, and the National Anthem was performed by Cordell Hopkins from the Buffalo Academy of Performing Arts. Kearns presented Certificates of Recognition and Purple Heart pins to recipients or their family members as the honoree’s names and branch of service was read aloud.
The William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit will be 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 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 2022 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 think it is important to honor the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. They deserve to be recognized and I am happy we are able to keep a record of our local heroes at the Erie County Clerk’s Office,” added Kearns.