Monroe is the latest Purple Heart City in North Carolina. A few weeks before that, Mount Holly made the proclamation. Now, city officials from Belmont are considering this special distinction, as well.
Members of the Charlotte Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Wounded Warriors Chapter 634 are spearheading these latest efforts.
Become A Purple Heart City
Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient Mike Santmire is a member of the Charlotte chapter. As the Mount Holly Director of Streets and Solid Waste, Fleet Maintenance and Recycling Services, he led the charge for his city.
Santmire served with the 4th Infantry Division, 4th Bn 42 Field Artillery during the war. He shares memories of returning from his tour of duty with a deep sense of anger, unappreciation and resentment: "As a combat vet, I was not welcomed back. I was spat upon at the airport and called 'baby killer' -- all for protecting our freedom? For many years, I held these feelings deep inside me, not wanting to talk or think about it, not even to my wife, family or friends."
He says the city proclamation is a way of honoring the sacrifices of those that were either wounded or killed by the action of enemies of the United States during war time.
Santmire offers this advice and steps for pursuing the "Purple Heart City" designation:
- Gather a group of people willing to champion the cause and to present the idea. Coincide this effort with a patriotic holiday, such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day or Independence Day.
- Present idea to city manager or mayor before meeting with the city council.
- Make an arrangement to speak before the city council during a work session to explain the "what" and "why" of this idea. The work session will be a more relaxed environment.
- If the city council is receptive to the "Purple Heart City" designation, arrange for a proclamation to be read and presented to the local MOPH chapter during the next available council meeting.
- Be prepared to provide a sample proclamation to the city for them to follow.
- The city is responsible for the cost and placement of Purple Heart City signs. In most cases, the city can make and install the signs.
- Arrange a public sign unveiling and a proclamation presentation. Invite local government officials, MOPH members, newspapers and TV stations.
The Purple Heart designation is not related to the number of Purple Heart recipients in a particular city.
Monroe and Mount Holly join Wake Forest, Henderson and Jacksonville, bringing the current count to five North Carolina Purple Heart Cities.
Go here to learn more about the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Check out the Charlotte chapter here.