Not many people know that Aug. 7 is one of the most hollowed days in American military history.
On Aug. 7, 1782, Gen. George Washington at his headquarters in Newburgh, N.Y., created the Badge of Military Merit to honor three Revolutionary War soldiers. The award went dormant until after World War I when it was revived on Feb. 22, 1932, the bicentennial of Washington’s birth, as the Purple Heart.
That’s why the Sgt. Roland A. Hartman Chapter 27 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart chose Tuesday to dedicate a plaque honoring American soldiers who were wounded in action at the Garden of Honor at the .
“We have a perfect place for this plaque,” said Ted Dima, a township resident who serves as senior vice commander of Chapter 27. Dima served in Vietnam.
Dima said Chapter 27, based in Somerville, had the plaque honoring Purple Heart recipients for more than a year and had several discussions where it should be located. The chapter finally decided on Hillsborough, Dima said, because it is “veteran-friendly.”
Dima said that he hoped the plaque, close to the other monuments remembering Hillsborough veterans, would attract the attention of young people going to the township library in the complex.
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th District) said he hope the plaque would become “an object of affection for the community, especially young people.”
While political pundits speak of red and blue states, Lance said that when those two colors are combined, purple is the result.
“We all are Americans first,” he said.
Lance quoted Lincoln who said in 1862 that America was “the last best hope for Earth.”
“That is my prayer for America,” Lance said, adding that all Americans pray for the safe return of military members who are serving overseas.
The congressman also noted that the revival of the Purple Heart honor was spearheaded in the late 1920s by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who also received the first Purple Heart for his injuries during World War I.
Mayor Carl Suraci thanked the members of the Purple Heart Committee–Dima, Chapter 27 Commander James Kopley, Junior Vice Commander Ken Meaney, Township Committeeman Bob Wagner, Building Department Director Ron Skobo and Parks and Recreation Director Rich Resavy–for their efforts to have the plaque installed.
Also in attendance at the Tuesday evening ceremony were Assemblyman Jack Ciatarelli (R-16th District), Freeholder Mark Caliguire and Joetta Clark-Diggs, a Hillsborough resident and four-time Olympian track star.