On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, Helena-West Helena officially became the third Purple Heart City in Arkansas.
There was a small gathering in the council chambers of city hall for a brief ceremony Tuesday morning that involved a special flag presentation by Commander Jose J. Martinez of the Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 633 of Rogers.
The purpose of proclaiming the community a “Purple Heart City” is to pay tribute to the brave men and women of the community and the nation who were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still being awarded our soldiers. President George Washington created it in 1782 as the “Badge of Military Honor.”
It is specifically awarded to any members of the U.S. military wounded or killed in combat. It is a reminder to all, of the high price of freedom.
Here are the number of Purple Heart recipients since World War I: WWI 320, 518; World War II, 1, 076, 245; Korean War, 118, 650; Vietnam War, 351,794; Persian Gulf War, 607; Afghanistan War, 7,027 (as of June 5, 2010); Iraq War, 35, 311 (as of June 5, 2010).
Among the special guests in attendance was Mrs. Alfred Major, the wife of the Phillips County World War II Purple Heart recipient.
“We are interested in recognizing and honoring the Purple Heart recipients in Helena-West Helena,” commented Mayor Arnell Willis. “If you know one, please call the Mayor's Office.”
Houston was the first Arkansas community to be designated a “Purple Heart City” back on July 20, 2012. The City of Marvell followed suit.
“Highway 49 is being considered for designation as a Purple Heart Trail,” said Martinez. “This route would begin at Campbell, Mo. and extend through the Arkansas cities of Piggott, Jonesboro and Brinkley and others as well as Helena-West Helena and Marvell.”
In Helena-West Helena, Martinez added that the route would continue south along the Highway 49 Bypass to the border of the Arkansas-Mississippi Bridge.
“In Phillips County, there will be visitors who travel this route recognizing the signs and flags,” concluded Martinez.