ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- The Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene held a designation ceremony Thursday to be officially named as a Purple Heart Cemetery.
The Purple Heart Trail is a network of roads, bridges, highways, trails, businesses, colleges, universities, cities, towns, counties, sports teams, airports and buildings that all remind the public of what the medal represents. Mike P. Hernandez, Vietnam Veteran and Texas Veterans Commissioner, told KTAB/KRBC more about this medal.
“You don’t look for it. You don’t want to receive it. It’s something that happens when you’re in combat,” said Hernandez.
The Purple Heart is awarded to service men and women who were wounded or died in combat. While it is a wonderful recognition of sacrifice, Hernandez said it is not one you set out to win.
“I was hit by a landmine. I lost my right eye and had shrapnel all over my body,” said Hernandez.
Lazaro O. Camarillo III, Vietnam Veteran and former Military Order of the Purple Heart of Texas Commander, shared his story with KTAB/KRBC as well.
“First time I got wounded was April the 5th. I got shotgun right here in the side of my neck. And the second was July the 16th 1969,” said Camarillo III. “In the elephant grass, we were hit by RPG.”
Members of the Purple Heart Trail span the nation. All lead back to where it began, in 1992 at George Washington’s former home Mount Vernon.
The Medal itself bears Washington’s face, as he was the first to award the honor during the Revolutionary war in 1782. In those times, the heart was a badge of merit. With the creation of the Legion of Merit in 1942 however, the Purple Heart was no longer as widely used. It was revived in 1932 and given the new purpose of recognizing those that were wounded or killed in battle.
“To have a Purple Heart Cemetery and honor our veterans who were wounded or lost their lives in combat it means a lot to me,” said Hernandez.
While it is a high sign of respect, Camarillo said he did not wear his medals for many years. Not until hearing a bit of advice from his father.
“In 1990 when my father passed away…He said I know and you know son, you don’t want to wear ribbons or medals. Well, wear them for the ones you left behind…” Camarillo recalls. “Now I wear it on my truck and my chest. I’m doing it for them.”
A sign designating the cemetery will be placed at the entry gate. A second sign reserving a parking spot for Purple Heart recipients will also be placed.