Chenango County To Unveil Purple Heart Memorial Honoring Veterans
Published: May 26th, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Chenango County to unveil Purple Heart memorial honoring veterans Mark and Alexander Williams of Savurn Memorials and Chenango County Office of Veterans Services Director Joe Coe installing the Purple Heart monument in East Park. The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are wounded or killed by enemy fire. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

CHENANGO COUNTY — Chenango County will be unveiling a Purple Heart monument on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, to honor and recognize veterans that have been wounded or killed during their service.

The unveiling ceremony will take place at approximately 12 p.m. in East Park in Norwich, immediately following the Memorial Day parade and service in West Park.

“The Purple Heart medal is presented to U.S. Military service members who have been wounded or killed by enemy fire. It is the nation’s oldest and one of the most distinguished military awards,” said Chenango County Office of Veterans Services Director Joe Coe. "A Purple Heart is a solemn distinction and means a service member has greatly sacrificed themselves, or paid the ultimate price, while in the line of duty."

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An invocation will be led by VFW 2782 Post Chaplin Lex Danyluk, Sp4, a US Army Vietnam combat veteran, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, a recognition of donors, and several guest speakers including elected officials and local veterans.

All Purple Heart recipients in attendance will be recognized during the ceremony, and after the memorial is unveiled a closing benediction will be given by Post 189 Chaplin, Vietnam combat veteran, and Purple Heart recipient Lieutenant Frank Revoir, Sr.

Last month, the New York State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill S.2279, sponsored by Senator Daphne Jordan, to designate New York State as a Purple Heart State. The bill has now been passed on to the Assembly.

According to a press release published by the New York State Senate and written by Senator Jordan, of the 62 counties in the state, more than 40 of them are designated Purple Heart Communities.

Chenango County became one of those communities in April of 2021. The Chenango County Board of Supervisors made a proclamation marking Chenango County as a Purple Heart Community to recognize the service of local veterans.

"The Chenango County Board of Supervisors hereby proclaims the County of Chenango as a Purple Heart Community, honoring the service and sacrifice of our Nation's men and women in uniform who were wounded or killed by the enemy while serving to protect the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans," the proclamation reads.

A few months after the proclamation, Coe thought of another way to recognize and honor Purple Heart recipients: with a public monument.

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"I was traveling through East Park one early morning, the sun was shining mighty bright, and I said that is where the monument needs to be, is in front of the American flag," Coe explained. "I looked at the American flag, I looked at the podium, and I looked at the park, and I said that’s where it’s got to go. It’s dead center in the middle of the park, so that’s the reason why I wanted it there. You can’t miss it."

Coe partnered with the Williams family, of Savurn Memorials, to design the monument. It stands approximately four feet tall and five feet wide, and is made out of polished black granite.

"On the front of it will be the bronze placard identifying Chenango County as a Purple Heart County, and recognizing the Purple Heart veterans or those who were awarded the Purple Heart of Chenango County. There will be the insignias of all the branches of service on the base of the monument itself," said Coe.

The placard on the front of the monument reads, "The Chenango County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Chenango County as a ‘Purple Heart Community.’ This memorial honors the service and sacrifice of our county’s men and women in uniform who were wounded or killed by the enemy while serving to protect the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans."

The memorial cost approximately $10,000 to create, and was funded entirely through donations. Coe worked with the Norwich chapters of the American Legion and the VFW to collect donations, and Coe said they exceeded their goal by a few thousand dollars.

"I just knew that I needed to have at least $10,000 because that’s what the quote was. I have more than that, I collected $12,825 I think it was," said Coe. "So I have money aside to maybe maintain the monuments both in East and West Park in the future."

Donors to the monument project include NBT Bank, GE Veterans Group, Daryl and Phyllis Forsythe, Preferred Mutual Insurance Corporation, Norwich VFW of Christy Rock Post 2782, Norwich Pharmaceuticals, Wilson Funeral Home, Norwich Elks Lodge #1222, John and Marcia Watt, Jr., Norwich American Legion Post 189, Sherburne American Legion Post 876, Sherburne American Legion Auxiliary, Chenango County American Legion, Golden Artist Colors, Hospice of Chenango County, Ronald and Ellen Palmer, and the New Berlin American Legion Post 348.

"I wanted to have something that was lasting, that could be seen by all the public," said Coe. "It's a lasting memory. If anything else, I would say a lasting memory that can be seen and shared by all."