Port St. Lucie City Council honored 14 Purple Heart recipients during a ceremony Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. GEORGE ANDREASSI/TCPALM Wochit
Drivesouth on U.S.1, and just before the Roosevelt Bridgeyou'll see a sign on the right-hand side that reads, "Welcome to Stuart. A Purple Heart City."
Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach sharethe designation, too.
A Purple Heart City. What does that mean?
ThePurple Heartisthe U.S. military decorationawardedto those wounded or killed during service. Though its name has undergone changes through the years, it is the oldest military award, datingback to the Revolutionary War.
As a tribute to veterans who have received the honor, the Purple Heart Trail was created in 1992. It's asystem of counties, cities, roads, highways, bridgesand other monuments that serve as a visual reminder of fallen soldiers.
Stuart, Port St Lucie and Vero Beach are all Purple Heart cities.(Photo: Catie Wegman)
Its a way for people to honor and recognize the sacrifice of Purple Heat recipients," said Ernie Rivera, national adjutant for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, or MOPH.
"Any organization can become a Purple Heart entity so long as they wish to helpus spread our mission of patriotism and remembering wounded veterans so no one forgets the sacrifice they made for our country," Rivera said.
Unlike the actual medal, theres no strict list of criteria or formal approval process for entities that wish to be included on the Purple Heart Trail, he said. Cities, businesses and other organizations simply must write a proclamation explaining why they want thedesignation.
Thestatements are filed with the MOPH, and then there's typically a small ceremony whereentities participation becomes official.
While Stuart, Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach arethe only designated Purple Heart cities on the Treasure Coast, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties also are recognized on the trail.
The only other local Purple Heart entity is State Road 710, also known as the Bee Line Highway, between theMartin County line andU.S. 1 in Palm Beach County.
Pretty much anything can qualify as a Purple Heart entity. In fact, the16 Hooters restaurantsin South Florida are recognized, as are Florida construction companies, hotels and even a newspaper, the Crestview News Bulletin in Okaloosa County.
The Indian River Wood Carvers Purple Heart Cane Project Cane Presentation Ceremony at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in Fort Pierce.(Photo: HOBIE HILER/SPECIAL TO TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)
Florida is working toward designating all of its counties to becomeaPurple Heart State, Rivera said. Former Gov. Rick Scott signed a proclamationdeclaringAug. 7 Florida Purple Heart Day.
The state is the second largest total veteran population, andabout 5,000 Purple Heart recipients.Rivera speculates the numbers could be higher, though, if it were to includewinter residents.
Editor's note:Ask Catieis an occasional feature produced by TCPalm Community Reporter Catie Wegman, whotries to find answers to your burning questionsabout anything and everything the more bizarre the better.Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Catie_Wegman and on Facebook @catiewegman1.
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