In their honor: Purple Heart Memorial Service honors fallen
By Jacob Hatcher
For the Enquirer
Men, women and children gathered during the annual Purple Heart Memorial Service at Sparkman Park in Hartselle this past Saturday in order to honor 159 Purple Heart recipients who were killed in or wounded in action in World War II, Korea and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Purple Heart is awarded to U.S. service members wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.
This event, which has occurred annually since 2005, is sponsored by the Finis J. Self Chapter 2212 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
“We do this so that we don’t forget that these heroes existed,” said chapter commander Clifford Gissell.
The Morgan County School Career JROTC performed the posting of the colors and Master Sgt. Donna Johnson (Ret.) sang the National Anthem. Guest speaker, Lt. Col. Brian Williams (Ret.) praised the sacrifice of those named, as well as all who have received the Purple Heart.
“I am happy to have never received this honor; the brave men and women who have had this paid the price,” Williams said.
The reading of the names was presented by Sen. Arthur Orr, Rep. Terri Collins, Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long and Cullman County Commission Chairman Jeff Clemons.
When asked what the driving force behind this event is, Gissell said, “They made a promise to the families of the people on this wall. Even though some of their families are gone, we still made them a promise. It’s important we read their names out loud to remember them.”