The City of Newark took time Friday afternoon to pay tribute to Purple Heart recipients.
In a brief ceremony in the city hall courtyard, Mayor Jerry Clifton read a proclamation declaring Newark a “Purple Heart City.” In attendance were several veterans who were wounded in battle.
“The people that earn the Purple Heart are combat-wounded veterans, and some of them aren't with us today to talk about that, because they were awarded when they lost their life,” Clifton said. “We need to continually honor their sacrifices and keep that in front of the public, so their efforts aren’t in vain and they're honored for giving us the great country that we have today.”
The Purple Heart City program is an initiative of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization that supports Purple Heart recipients. The designation is merely ceremonial but helps honor and raise awareness of service members who were injured in combat, according to Richard Magner, adjutant of the Cooch's Bridge chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
“We want to keep the word out there that people do go off to war,” Magner said. “It's just to make the civilians aware that some of them made a sacrifice but others made the ultimate sacrifice. That's just what we're trying to do. There's so much going on in the world right now with the pandemic that we want to keep our American servicemen in the forefront.”
The local chapter represents approximately 100 Purple Heart recipients from Newark and the surrounding area, and Delaware’s second chapter in Sussex County has approximately 100 additional members.
Magner served in the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War and received his Purple Heart after being injured in the beginning of the Tet Offensive in 1968.
“I took shrapnel in the right arm, right leg and the left hand. It just grazed across there, but there's still a piece in my finger,” said Magner, who was a field radio operator with an artillery unit. “I spent nine days in an army evac hospital in Vietnam, and then I went right back to my battery.”
Magner presented Clifton with a plaque to be displayed in city hall. Newark is the first in Delaware to be declared a Purple Heart City.
“That's quite an honor, and we have a history of honoring our veterans here, naming streets after veterans and so forth. I think this is just a logical continuation of the support that we show our veterans,” Clifton said. “I'm honored to be part of continuing this legacy that Newark and Newark residents have started for our veterans.”