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Powell Presents Purple Hearts; Postal Service Reissues Stamp Honoring Medal

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2007 – Retired Army Gen. Colin Powell presented Purple Heart Medals to two wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here today, as the U.S. Postal Service reissued a stamp honoring the medal and those who wear it. (Video)

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The U.S. Postal Service issued the 41-cent Purple Heart stamp for public sale Aug. 7, 2007.
  

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The medal, which features George Washington’s family crest and the first president’s silhouette set against a purple heart, is awarded to U.S. servicemembers wounded by an instrument of war in an enemy’s hands.

Powell received a Purple Heart after a booby trap wounded him in 1963 near the Vietnam-Laos border. The general today told the audience of nearly 150 servicemembers, families, friends, and hospital officials that the Purple Heart is unique because it’s “the only decoration which you are entitled to as a wounded warrior.”

“You may be recommended for other decorations, but this is the one that you are entitled to,” he said. “It is something that is owed to all of our wounded warriors by a grateful nation, and is given in the name of the president.

“It’s the least the American people can do to recognize those of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have been willing to step forward to serve the nation, serve the cause of peace, freedom and democracy around the world,” the general said.

Powell presented Purple Hearts to two such servicemembers who were wounded by improvised explosive devices in separate incidents in Iraq: Army Sgt. Robert Evans, of 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, from Fort Benning, Ga., and Army Pfc. Marcus LaBadie of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, from Fort Hood, Texas.

“Because I have a Purple Heart now, and because I’ve been through it and I’ve walked in their shoes, I have more respect for the other soldiers who have Purple Hearts,” Evans said after Powell pinned his shirtfront with the medal.

Civilians who wish to honor Purple Heart recipients now need to look no further than their local post office. John Potter, postmaster general and chief executive officer of the U.S. Postal Service, and Powell unveiled an eight-foot replica of the Purple Heart stamp that today becomes available to the public.

“The reason that we’re here today is because the stamp has touched this nation and its people so deeply, and they’ve let us know that,” Potter said. “It’s not only the stamp itself that resonates so strongly, (but) it’s what the stamp stands for, what it represents.”

The stamp commemorates servicemembers’ sense of duty, dedication to service, spirit of valor, and willingness to sacrifice, the postmaster general said.

“By using the Purple Heart stamp on their cards and letters, our citizens salute you and your role in protecting our great nation,” Potter said.

The 41-cent stamp is the third issue of the Purple Heart postage stamp and goes on sale nationally today to coincide with two significant dates in the medal’s history. Today marks the 225th anniversary of the Badge of Military Merit, the predecessor of the Purple Heart Medal, which was first awarded 75 years ago.

Army Maj. Gen. Elder Granger, deputy director of the Tricare Management Activity, thanked audience members for helping acknowledge one of the country’s oldest military badges by witnessing the stamp’s unveiling.

“This is truly a legacy in terms of the Postal Service and their support of our men and women in uniform services,” he said.

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John Potter

Click photo for screen-resolution imageRetired Army Gen. Colin Powell addresses audience members during a Purple Heart presentation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Aug. 7, 2007. The U.S. Postal Service unveiled a new stamp honoring the medal and those who wear it. Photo by John J. Kruzel  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRetired Army Gen. Colin Powell speaks during a Purple Heart presentation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Aug. 7, 2007. The U.S. Postal Service unveiled a new stamp honoring the medal and those who wear it. Photo by John J. Kruzel  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRetired Army Gen. Colin Powell presents a Purple Heart and certificate to Army Sgt. Robert Evans of the 1st Battalion, 15th Regiment, who appeared with his father, Leonard Keith Evans, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Aug. 7, 2007. Photo by John J. Kruzel   
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