Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald
Following a presentation last Friday afternoon, several staff members and residents of the State Veterans Home pose for a photo designating the institution as a Purple Heart Campus. Holding the plaque commemorating the designation is State Home resident Col. Josiah Wallace, who is a Purple Heart recipient himself. Also pictured in front, on far right, is resident Spc. William Lovitt who is also a Purple Heart recipient. Also pictured is Military Order of Purple Heart Commander Ken Teunissen (standing far left) and State Home Supt. Col. Brad Richardson (standing behind Col. Wallace).
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – A special presentation last Friday, Aug. 23, at the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home officially added the home to the ever-growing list of nationwide locations on the Purple Heart Trail.
According to the purpleheart.org website, the purpose of the Purple Heart Trail is to create a symbolic and honorary system of roads, highways, bridges, and other monuments that give tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart medal.
The Purple Heart Trail accomplishes this honorary goal by creating a visual reminder to those who use the road system that others have paid a high price for their freedom to travel and live in a free society. Signs placed at various locations annotate those roads and highways where legislation has been passed to designate parts of the national road system as The Purple Heart Trail. The actual format and design of the signs vary from state to state. There are currently designated sections in 45 states as well as Guam.
Conducting the presentation last week was Military Order of Purple Heart - Commander Ken Teunissen and Deputy Secretary of the S.D. Department of Veterans Affairs Aaron Pollard, both of Sioux Falls.
As part of the presentation to signify the State Home as part of the Purple Heart Trail, the institution received a pair of metal signs to hang up on their campus, as well as two Veterans Only parking signs and two Combat Wounded parking signs.
In the audience for the presentation last Friday were two State Home residents who are both Purple Heart recipients from their service in Korea and Vietnam.
Colonel Josiah Wallace graduated from West Point in 1946. He entered active duty and served in Korea for which he was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other commendations. He then next served in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
SPC William Lovitt was an Army Specialist in Korea serving from 1952-54, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart during his combat service in Korea.
The Purple Heart Trail was established in 1992 by the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The original idea for the Purple Heart Trail came from Patriot Frank J. Kuhn, Jr., a member of Chapter 1732 in Virginia. His idea was carried to the national level by Patriot George Gallagher, a member of Virginia Chapter 353. Patriot Gallagher was a former National Adjutant. Patriot Gallagher introduced Patriot Kuhn’s Purple Heart Trail idea as a resolution during the 1992 MOPH National Convention held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The resolution was approved and the MOPH National Purple Heart Trail began.
The Purple Heart Trail originates at a monument in Mt Vernon, Virginia. Mt Vernon is the burial location of George Washington. This monument marks the origin of the Purple Heart Trail.
Currently in the state of South Dakota, seven cities are listed on the Purple Heart Trail, including Corsica, Garretson, Mitchell, Parker, Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls. According to State Home Superintendent Col. Brad Richardson, he said Mayor George Kotti has indicated that he would like to see the City of Hot Springs take the necessary steps to be added to the list as well.
South Dakota counties on the trail include Day, Dewey, Grant, Minnehaha and Turner.
Other locations include South Dakota State University in Brookings and some businesses in Sioux Falls, Pierre, Garretson and Mitchell, as well as the Cheyenne River Sioux, Lower Brule and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traverse Reservations. In addition, I-90 from the Wyoming to Minnesota borders are also considered Purple Heart Trail Routes.