Purple Heart Stamp Reissued, Iraqi War Vets Honored
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 26, 2006 A new version of a postage stamp commemorating the Purple Heart and all those who have earned it was issued in a ceremony here today.
Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Postal Service unveil the new version of the Purple Heart Definitive stamp at Arlington National Cemetery, May 26. Photo by Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
During the ceremony, two veterans of the war in Iraq were awarded Purple Hearts by R. James Nicholson, secretary of Veterans Affairs.
"(The Purple Heart) celebrates the indomitable spirit of ordinary soldiers in extraordinary situations; it embodies our country's earliest traditions of service and sacrifice," Nicholson said before presenting the Purple Heart to Army Spc. Michael Hilliard and Army Spc. Ian Wagner.
Hilliard and Wagner were wounded in Iraq while serving with the 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Mountain Division, respectively.
The stamp is a new version of the Purple Heart Definitive stamp, first issued in May 2003 by the U.S. Postal Service. USPS is proud to recognize the Purple Heart with this stamp, because it reminds Americans of what people have suffered in the name of freedom, said John E. Potter, postmaster general and chief executive officer of the U.S. Postal Service.
"The award and the men and women it honors say so much about our nation," Potter said. "In reissuing this stamp today, we have 50 million chances to tell that story again."
Every person who dons a military uniform knows the sacrifices they may have to make, but they still choose to serve and America should not forget their dedication, said James C. Miller, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors. The Purple Heart stamp will go to millions of homes on cards and letters and will be a testament to the sacrifices of servicemembers past and present, he said.
"It is fully in our power to remember their service and to revere their deeds," Miller said.
About 100 Purple Heart recipients attended the ceremony at the invitation of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. James Randles, the order's national commander, thanked all those who made the issuance of the stamp possible, and said that the stamp is very important, because it is a recognizable symbol that has meaning to servicemembers of all ages from all services.
"It is the one medal wanted by few but worn by many," Randles said. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the president to members of the military who have been wounded in combat or to the next of kin of those killed in action.
The stamp features the medal's image - a profile of George Washington on a purple background within a heart-shaped medallion. The stamp image is a photograph of one of two Purple Hearts awarded to James Loftus Fowler of Alexandria, Va. Fowler was a lieutenant colonel in the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, when he received the Purple Heart in 1968 following action close to the Ben Hai River on the border between North and South Vietnam.
The new Purple Heart stamp goes on sale nationally tomorrow.