Kitsap a Purple Heart County to honor veterans

Veterans Day celebrations have come and gone, but Kitsap County is still taking action to recognize those who made bodily sacrifices for their country.

County commissioners voted Nov. 29 to adopt a resolution declaring Kitsap a Purple Heart County, honoring members of the U.S. armed forces wounded or killed in the line of duty.

The Purple Heart stands as the oldest military award for the common soldier in the nation, dating back to the American Revolution in 1776 when it was called the Badge of Military Merit. The award continues to be given in the name of the president as a solemn distinction of those who left limb or life on the battlefield.

Reading the resolution was Rick Becker, coordinator of the Veterans Advisory Board, who said this group of veterans deserves distinct recognition. “This is a very unique opportunity for Kitsap County to honor a select few,” he said, “a subset of all our veterans who have made a supreme sacrifice in many cases.”

The resolution ensures the celebration of all Purple Heart recipients equally, recognizing what those who managed to stay alive gave up for their nation. Becker said, “For those who have not died in combat, they have sacrificed as well.”

Becker said he learned about the idea from the city of Port Orchard and, with leadership from the commissioners, worked to provide a resolution.

Becker is working with veteran services and support groups to advocate for the purchase of signage around Kitsap to further recognize Purple Heart recipients. Specifically, he will look to entrance points, such as ferry terminals, roads and bridges.

The resolution was passed just over two weeks after county buildings were illuminated in green to celebrate Veterans Day. There were ideas to pass the resolution then, but Commissioner Rob Gelder said, “The more I think about it, it actually is better to have been separated to actually have time to carve this action out separately from recognizing veterans as a whole.”