Remembering the Purple Heart

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(ABC 6 News) – It’s an award no member of our military wants to receive. 

The Purple Heart symbolizes those in the military who were wounded or killed in combat. 

Five years ago, veterans in Albert Lea wanted to bring more attention to those who were wounded in battle. Sparking the idea to make the entire county a Purple Heart County to show their appreciation. 

Iraq war veteran and purple heart recipient Ryan Sabinish, says it’s an award that can sometimes be forgotten about.

“Not a lot of people know what a purple heart is or how we received our purple heart,” Sabinish said. “So wanted to find a way to spread more awareness.”

So the American Legion Riders of Post 56 in Albert Lea spearheaded a plan to make Freeborn County the first purple heart county in the north star state. Hoping to bring awareness and gratitude to those who took a bullet or worse for our country. 

Back in 2017, there were 0 purple heart counties in Minnesota. 

Fast forward five years, and there are now 14 purple heart counties and 17 cities.

Communities looking to become purple heart entities have to get approval from the purple heart trail.
The program was established in the 90s. But at that time, they usually dedicated highways and bridges. 

Today, Purple Heart entities aren’t limited in the same way.

Purple Heart Trail National Coordinator, Daniel M Eddinger tells us sports franchises are also asking how they can show their support. 

“That makes you feel a little proud of the fact that they recognize the sacrifice that our soldiers have done for this country,” Eddinger said. “It’s really snowballed into a really large program.”

Eddinger says that there is no cost to becoming a purple heart entity. The only thing they have to pay for are signs to put up on county or city lines. 

“A lot of time they’ll ask, well what do we gain out of this?” Eddinger said. “You only gain the honor of being able to identify the Purple Heart representatives in your area, including their families.”

The Minnesota Wild was also the first NHL team to become a Purple Heart team.

If you want to become a Purple Heart entity click here