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Canaan marks 238 years of Purple Heart


CANAAN—The first Purple Heart was awarded by George Washington 238 years ago on August 7, 1782. The anniversary was observed at Flatbrook Cemetery at an August 7, 2020 ceremony featuring families of three local World War II Purple Heart recipients: Marine Corporal Charles N. Girdler, Jr., Army PFC Richard P. Hatch, and Marine PFC Vernon L. Warren.

The event was organized by Mr. Flaherty, Columbia County Veterans Services Agency director, and Canaan Town Historian Dodie Gearing, and a gentle rain did not diminish the words of gratitude and appreciation from Canaan Town Supervisor Brenda Adams and State Senator Daphne Jordan (R-43rd).

Mr. Flaherty and others noted that Columbia County has been officially named a Purple Heart County, a designation carried on signs at every roadway entering Columbia County.

Canaan Town Supervisor Brenda Adams (l) and state Senator Daphne Jordan (R-43rd) at the Purple Heart ceremony at Flatbrook Cemetery on August 7. Photo by Peter Flierl

Supervisor Adams noted that you might hear an appreciative “toot, toot” of her car horn when she passes one of the signs, which were created by the Columbia County Highway Department. Designation as a Purple Heart County had been supported by Sen. Jordan, whose district covers the entire county.

Veterans and veteran organizations were well represented at the August 7 event including: Jeff French, commander 3rd District American Legion; Patrick Wemitt, Vietnam Veterans; and Liz Chapman, American Legion Auxiliary. Mr. Flaherty was also representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Following Senator Jordan’s words of appreciation, family members placed flower arrangements at the graves of their ancestors for their heroic service.

The Purple heart is awarded to members of U.S. military forces killed or wounded in action.

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