Modified: August 13, 2021 12:07pm

August 13, 2021

Erie County Clerk Kearns presented a Certificate of Recognition, a commemorative Purple Heart pin and special Purple Heart lawn sign to U.S. Army and Vietnam War Michael E. Haynes of Lackawanna, NY during a special "at home" presentation honoring servicemembers who received the Purple Heart and whose names were added to the 2021 edition of the William J. Donovan Purple Heart Recipients Book of Merit. Also pictured are Mr. Haynes' wife, Debbie and his entire family, along with Jim Schaller and Russ Ward of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 187.

County Clerk celebrated with veterans added to the William J. Donovan 2021 Purple Heart Book of Merit during special home ceremonies recognizing local military heroes wounded or killed in combat

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.

Due to COVID-19, not all veterans or family members could attend this year’s ceremony held in front Old County Hall, home to the Erie County Clerk’s Office. Therefore, Clerk Kearns presented Certificates of Recognition, commemorative Purple Heart pins and a special Purple Heart signs publicizing that a veteran or member of that household is a recipient of a Purple Heart and had given their life or had been wounded in combat during special “at home” ceremonies with veterans and their family members. 

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. In addition to the Purple Heart Day Ceremony held downtown, Kearns performed a number of "at home" ceremonies across Erie County in Elma, West Seneca, Lackawanna, and Glenwood. 

“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.” 

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 and recognize these 22 local heroes personally,” 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. 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. 

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 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.