Etching service, merit in stone

Memorial: A new monument at the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum in Harford County honors Purple Heart recipients.

August 15, 2004|By Sarah Merkey | Sarah Merkey,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The new Maryland Purple Heart Memorial, a solid red granite monument in front of the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground, is a reminder of blood that has been shed in the name of freedom.

The 5-foot-tall monument sits on a base stone that is engraved with symbols of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and merchant marine - members of which are eligible for the Purple Heart if they are killed or wounded in combat.

"It's very appropriate," said retire dMaj. Gen. Andrew H. Anderson, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart of Maryland. "It depicts the fact that anyone who has a Purple Heart has shed blood - that's the red." Anderson said the purple of the medal's ribbon also is indicative of blood.

"It's beautiful," said Orville R. Hughes, immediate past commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The memorial - the first state memorial to be dedicated on federal property - was unveiled Aug. 7 during a dedication ceremony packed with veterans, their families, and representatives of many veterans organizations.

The hourlong ceremony included about 100 Purple Heart recipients.

Anderson directed taps at the close of the ceremony as two members of the Young Marines placed a wreath in front of the memorial.

"That is a very emotional part of any ceremony," Anderson said. "Freedom is not free. Men and women are paying the price for freedom with their blood - it's happening now in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Planning for the memorial began last year, said William F. Atwater, director of the U.S. Army National Ordnance Museum, when the Military Order of the Purple Heart began looking for a memorial site.

The order had considered several locations, including Fort McHenry, before it settled on the ordnance museum, Hughes said.

"We were looking for a location where it would be maintained and protected from vandalism, and where it will be seen by the public," Hughes said.

When the memorial committee visited the museum and told officials they were considering it as a possible location, Atwater said the museum "could bring some things to the table."

The museum had enough space for the memorial, Atwater said, and museum officials also assumed some responsibility for organizing the ceremony.

"The big clincher was by putting it here at the Army National Ordinance Museum it would be cared for by the U.S. Army," Atwater said.

The concrete base of the monument was donated by Maryland Portable Concrete Inc. of Aberdeen. The monument was designed by Bona-Fide Memorials of Jersey City, N.J., and was built in Vermont.

After last week's ceremony, Atwater said, he met John H. Meyers, state commander of American Ex-Prisoners of War. Meyers was interested in the possibility of placing a POW memorial at the museum.

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