The Idaho State Capitol Building in Boise.

The Idaho State Capitol Building in Boise.

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Idaho joined the ranks of Purple Heart states in August with an official ceremony honoring military veterans who were wounded or killed in combat situations.

Members of the military and state representatives made the designation official during an Aug. 7 ceremony on the steps of the Idaho Capitol for a ceremony.

Purple Heart recipient, William “Bill” Hamilton, who is the commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Idaho Chapter, helped organized the event in order to bring statewide recognition to purple heart recipients and thank them for their service.

“It’s an awareness thing,” he told the Press-Tribune in August. “To let people know that we are recognizing those people that went a little bit further, especially the people that never came back.”

The Idaho chapter has been active since the late 1980s. It contributes to veterans support programs and scholarships. Hamilton said it has been successful in making 32 Idaho cities “Purple Heart cities,” including Nampa and Caldwell.

Idaho became a Purple Heart state in perpetuity in March 2016 when the Senate adopted a resolution presented by Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian. Hagedorn, who joined the U.S. Navy before getting out of high school and spent 20 years as an active military member. 

Purple Heart Day is celebrated nationally on Aug. 7. The tradition of awarding Purple Heart dates back to 1782 when George Washington awarded the first “badge of military merit.” That merit later became the Purple Heart.

Since the American Revolutionary War, around 1.7 million Purple Hearts have been awarded. Around 4,000 of those are Idahoans, according to Hamilton.

Olivia Weitz is a general assignment reporter. She can be reached at 465-8107 or oweitz@idahopress.com. Follow @oliviaweitz1.

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