Originally published August 29, 2019 at 12:07 a.m., updated August 29, 2019 at 8:47 a.m.
By GRAIG GRAZIOSI
Youngstown on Wednesday became the latest “Purple Heart City” during a ceremony to honor those wounded or killed in combat.
Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and members of city council unveiled a resolution recognizing members of the military community living in the area who have received Purple Hearts, the military honor given to individuals wounded or killed in combat.
The effort to make Youngstown a Purple Heart City was undertaken by Leo Connelly, Jr., an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient himself.
Connelly was stabbed during his time in Vietnam, but was not recognized by the U.S. government until 50 years later when he was awarded a Purple Heart. He wanted to make sure other vets who shed blood or died in combat would always be honored, so he approached Brown with the idea of becoming a Purple Heart City.
“We’re the first city in the area to become a Purple Heart City,” Connelly said. “I came to Mayor Brown with the idea and he was very supportive.”
Purple Heart Cities become part of what is known as the “Purple Heart Trail,” a symbolic trail honoring veterans killed or wounded in combat that currently includes cities in 45 states.
In addition to the resolution, the city also added an additional message to the sign welcoming travelers to downtown Youngstown in Federal Square. The sign now includes the words “Purple Heart City.”
A dozen Purple Heart recipients joined Connelly to unveil the new sign.
The ceremony was led by Commander Herman K. Breuer of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 606 in Trumbull County, and the Posting of Colors was performed by members of the American Legion Post 737.
First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver, a former enlisted man, reminisced about his time at boot camp at the Army’s Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., and expressed his hope that Purple Heart recipients continue to receive recognition beyond ceremonial days.
“I challenge everyone to make every day a Purple Heart day, because every day service members are shedding blood for our country,” Oliver said.