Northborough proclaimed a Purple Heart Town
By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The town of Northborough has joined Marlborough, Westborough, and other local communities in signing a formal proclamation in recognition of Purple Heart medal recipients. At its Nov. 4 meeting, the Board of Selectmen unanimously proclaimed Northborough a Purple Heart Town, recognizing the “contributions and sacrifices of men and women of Northborough” who were wounded in combat.
“We all have a debt of gratitude to all the veterans,” said Selectman Jeff Amberson.
The Purple Heart Town designation allows communities to honor veterans wounded or killed in combat at no cost. The program is run by the national veterans group Military Order of the Purple Heart. About a dozen Massachusetts towns and 150 communities throughout the United States have adopted the Purple Heart designation, according to the Order.
Speaking with the selectmen, Northborough veteran Edward Donnelly traced the Purple Heart’s lineage to the merit medal awarded by George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Gen. Douglas MacArthur revived the medal in 1931 after a 150 year absence, retroactively awarding it to World War I veterans wounded in combat by the enemy.
The Purple Heart is “one of the medals you never wanted to get,” said Donnelly, who received his medal for service during the Vietnam War. “You’re not put in for it. You earn it as a result of being wounded.”
Algonquin Regional High School graduate Tim Bombard was awarded the Purple Heart in 2008 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, after suffering shrapnel wounds when his base came under attack. His father, Edward Bombard, attended the selectmen’s meeting to show support for the Purple Heart designation.
Bombard said he was always afraid for his son serving in a combat zone, but said he felt fortunate that Tim, who is now stationed in Germany, was not gravely injured.
Clinton proclaimed itself the first Purple Heart Town in Massachusetts in May. Westborough followed suit in July and Marlborough did so in October.
Westborough Selectman Denny Drewry is also the order’s Service Officer, and earned a Purple Heart as a Green Beret in Vietnam.
“It’s important that each town can show its support to soldiers wounded in combat,” said Drewry in a phone interview.
As a former resident of Northborough, Drewry said it meant a lot to him that the community would proclaim itself a Purple Heart Town.
Drewry noted that the Order wants cities and towns across Massachusetts to support a Purple Heart proclamation.
“The reception has been pretty darn good,” Drewry said. “I’m proud that we’re doing this.”
In addition to its Purple Heart Town campaign, the Order provides services and scholarships to veterans, according to Donnelly. The Order has also provides funds to veterans who are victims of disasters, such as Super Storm Sandy, the fertilizer explosion in West, Texas, and the 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla.
For more information on the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Purple Heart Town program, go to http://www.purpleheart.org/.
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