Vicksburg to pay half of cost for Purple Heart monument

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A new organization of Purple Heart recipients trying to raise $7,000 to establish a monument in Vicksburg honoring those who have been wounded or killed in combat got a $3,500 pledge from city officials Monday.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Hill City chapter was created in January by a group of veterans. The Purple Heart has been awarded to military members wounded or killed in combat since 1917. It was created to revive the Badge of Military Merit, which was established in 1782 by President George Washington — whose likeness is on the Purple Heart.

Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Thomas Powell said it is not known how many residents in Warren County have a Purple Heart. He was joined in asking the city to help publicize the order’s efforts by fellow veterans and chapter members Alvin Jones, Freddie L. Amos and Jack Hearn. Jones and Amos were both wounded in Vietnam, while Hearn was awarded his Purple Heart for an injury sustained in World War II. The board surprised the men by pledging half of the money needed for a monument and further promising to construct a base for it at the Monroe Street Rose Garden and maintain the monument once erected.

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“We just felt it was important to support a group of people who are chasing such a good cause,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens. “This monument will perpetually memorialize some of the real heroes in our community.”  

The monument is to be granite, about 4 feet tall and is to feature a purple heart, Powell said. Leyens said the Rose Garden, which is already home to three monuments to those who have served in the military, is a natural fit. He said he hopes the veterans will be able to raise the money for it by the end of the year.

The Vicksburg chapter, officially christened Chapter 680, has about 20 members and is hoping new members will join, Powell said. A lifetime membership costs $50. Annual membership costs $20. Powell said he and others were inspired to create a local Military Order of the Purple Heart chapter after the state convention was held in Vicksburg last year.

The local chapter meets every second Thursday at the Battlefield Inn at 9 a.m., with the meetings open to the public. Those who are interested in joining the group or contributing to the monument fund can contact Powell at 601-634-0707 or Jones at 601-638-1098.


Contact Steve Sanoski at