ELLERBE — Richmond County’s third-largest municipality has become a Purple Heart town, local leaders announced Monday.
Town Councilmember Elsie Freeman said that signs are in the process of being made for everywhere an Ellerbe city limits sign is located for when visitors and residents come into town.
“Wendell Robinson (city maintenance worker) worked with a vendor and had the signs made,” said Freeman. “Wendell ordered eight of them.”
Freeman added that county commissioners are working to make Richmond County a Purple Heart county, but in the meantime she said any town can do this. After the council approved the signs in March and filled out the proclamation, it was full steam ahead on painting the town purple. The signs should be installed within the next week.
Freeman — who’s husband is received the Purple Heart — said that Timbers Crossing Free Will Baptist Church Pastor Charlie Tyler — another Purple Heart recipient — helped with the process.
In an email to the Daily Journal, Tyler said the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 647 approached the Town Council of Ellerbe requesting a proclamation in support of a Purple Heart town out of honor for those who were injured or lost their lives while serving their country.
“There is not a current Purple Heart member count in the Town of Ellerbe, but there are a few that live here,” Tyler said.
The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still in present use, and it was initially created by George Washington in 1782 as the “Badge of Military Merit,” Tyler said. The Purple Heart was the first American Service Award made available to the common soldier, he added, and it was awarded to any member of the United States Armed Services wounded or killed in combat with a declared enemy of the United States.
“It honors the Purple Heart recipients in defending our freedoms, acknowledge their courage and shows them the honor and support they have earned,” said Tyler.
The organization is now known as the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc. and was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active duty men and women who have received the decoration.
“It’s just a way we wanted to honor our veterans,” said Freeman. “We don’t have the money to do a park and things that other towns do so that was the way we could honor the veterans.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.