- Monday, 12 August 2019
- Written by Jenna Shackelford
The presence of the military in our community is prominent and unmistakable; but far too often, the accomplishments and sacrifice of the individuals who serve this country, as well as their families, are neglected. Whether they are active-duty or veterans, the men and women who serve and who have served in the military deserve a resounding “thank you.” The Sandhills Purple Heart Committee is stepping up to applaud those brave men and women by hosting the third annual Purple Heart Dinner on Aug. 24.
“The Purple Heart is America’s oldest medal, established by George Washington to honor those wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States,” said Senior Vice Commander Barry Pearce, a representative of The Military Order of the Purple Heart. The first of the awards was given to three noncomissioned soldiers of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The order said, “Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the Purple Heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.”
After the American Revolution ended, the award fell into disuse until 1932, when the Army declared the restoration of the use for “persons who, while serving in the Army of the United States, perform any singularly meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity or essential service.” Moreover, the award would once again be used to recognize soldiers who acquired wounds in the line of duty that necessitated treatment by a medical officer “with an enemy of the United States, or as a result of an act of such enemy.”
The mission of the Purple Heart Dinner is “to honor those who have given so much. We are honoring true heroes and role models,” said Andrea Tebbe, the cochairman of the Sandhills Purple Heart dinner. “Our purpose is to honor and thank Purple Heart recipients who shed their blood for our country, while also honoring Gold Star mothers and the families of those (killed in action).”
Gold Star mothers are those whose son or daughter dies while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The number of Purple Hearts awarded since 1932, when it was reestablished by the Army, remains unclear, since the Department of Defense does not keep a record of the number of recipients. However, according to a 2019 report to Congress on the Purple Heart, military historians believe that 1 million Purple Hearts have been awarded since 1932; the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor estimates the number to be closer to 1.8 million. According to the Fort Bragg Order of the Purple Heart, there are at least 476 Purple Heart recipients in the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area.
The Sandhills Purple Heart Committee understands the importance of showing support to the families of fallen soldiers and thus Gold Star mothers will also be recognized at the event. During World War I, families of service members flew service flags. The flag would have a blue star on it to indicate that the person with the flag had an immediate family member who was serving in the war. If the service member died in the line of duty, the blue star was replaced with a gold one as a reminder of the sacrifice the service member made for his country.
The first Purple Heart Dinner was held in 2009 in Wake Forest, and the initiative has since spread to seven other North Carolina cities and two other states. Since then, the numbers of attendees have continued to reflect not just the sacrifices of the recipients and their families but of the immense support for them from their communities.
“We recognize Purple Heart recipients, Gold star mothers and the families of those who are (killed in action) or (prisoners of war). The numbers vary year to year; this year we have over 100 Purple Heart recipients and 12 Gold Star mothers and several families of those (killed in action) (being recognized),” Tebbe said.
There will also be a recognition of World War II Veterans.
In a community with a strong military presence, it comes as no surprise that there are several Purple Heart Chapters in the Sandhills area. “The one in Fayetteville is the Fort Bragg Chapter,” Pearce explained. Visit the website at http://www.purpleheartfortbragg.com/donate-to-the-bragg-moph-chapter.php for more information.
Pearce encourages the community to show its appreciation for the heroes who have sacrificed so much for their country. “If you know of a recipient, thank them for their service and sacrifice,” he said. “The volunteers of the committee believe it is important to recognize all they have sacrificed and what they have been through. (The dinner) is our way to say ‘Thank you,’ and ‘We support you.’”
While many ceremonies have a keynote speaker or several speakers, the Purple Heart Dinner’s focus is on the honorees.
“We do not have speakers,” explained Tebbe. “The Walk of Honor, where we recognize the Purple Heart recipients, is what we do instead of a guest speaker.” The event opens with a reception for the recipients. After that, the Purple Heart recipients walk through a saber salute. During that time, the emcee will explain the military story of each individual.
Most sponsors come from community business and families of recipients. Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor, though, can visit www.sandhillsphdinner.com or contact one of the committee members, also found on the website.
The Purple Heart Dinner will be held at the Crown Coliseum Expo center Aug. 24, from
5-8 p.m. The ceremonial dinner is open to the public for $25 per ticket. The Purple Heart recipient and two guests can attend for free.
To show support of those being recognized, people can sponsor the event on a number of levels, starting at $100 for the first level.
Visit https://www.sandhillsphdinner.com/ for more information on the event, purchasing tickets or becoming a sponsor.
The Sandhills Purple Heart Committee is hosting the 3rd annual Purple Heart Dinner on Aug. 24 at the Crown Coliseum Expo center from 5-8 p.m.
Photo credit: Kellie Marie Photography
- Monday, 19 August 2019
- Written by Jeff Thompson
Development plans are underway on a proposed project to widen 25 miles of I-95 to eight lanes between Exit 56 in Cumberland County and I-40, Exit 81, in Johnston County, including all of Harnett County. Proposed work includes rebuilding at least six interchanges with new overpasses, loops and ramps. Additionally, service roads will be realigned or shifted to meet modern design standards. The portion of I-95 being proposed for this project has the highest traffic volumes in the state, reaching nearly 60,000 vehicles a day, according to a 2016 survey. The proposal should ease congestion and accommodate future growth in traffic along the north-south interstate. I-95 is also scheduled for widening to eight lanes in Robeson County and lower Cumberland County between mile marker 22 in Lumberton to mile marker 40. Construction of this segment isn’t scheduled to begin until 2028.
Hospital executive named to national agency
Dr. Roxie Wells has been elected to the American Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees. The term is for three years beginning Jan. 1, 2020. Wells is president of Cape Fear Valley Hoke Healthcare, where she manages Hoke Hospital and its associated outpatient clinics. She also serves as an associate chief medical officer for the health system. The Fayetteville State University graduate received her medical degree from East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine in Greenville. She Joined Cape Fear Valley Health in 2010 as a family practice physician at Stedman Medical Care. Wells’ work led to partnerships with Bladen County Health Department and EMS, as well as increased access to primary care services in the primarily rural county.
State Trooper recovering from serious injuries
On the morning of July 22, Trooper Chris Wooten was seriously injured as a result of a collision in Charlotte. Wooten was pursuing a motorist on his motorcycle when he was struck by a truck. He has been hospitalized receiving around-the-clock care because of the serious nature of his injuries. He was recently transferred from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte to Shepherd Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta where his treatment process continues.
“The overwhelming amount of support offered by our law enforcement partners, medical staff, other first responders and the public is unmatched and truly expresses the appreciation for Chris’ law enforcement service,” said Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol.
For those wishing to provide financial assistance to the Wooten family, an account under Christopher and Sharon Wooten Special Account has been established at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union.
Register of Deeds office honored
The Cumberland County Register of Deeds office received an International Association of Government Officials Innovator Award at the association’s annual conference held in Houston, Texas, in July. The Register of Deeds received the honor in recognition of technology upgrades to better serve customers. The upgrades include electronic recordings, online vital records, instant recording of real estate records, three marriage license kiosks and the ability to submit the date for a marriage license online.
“It is an honor for our office to be recognized by an organization that has members in most states across the United States as well as a number of foreign countries,” Register of Deeds Lee Warren said.
In addition to technology upgrades, the selection committee also considered the Register of Deeds annual Book Bag Drive for homeless children in Cumberland County Schools. The book bag drive has benefited an estimated 650 homeless school children. The Highlands Chapter of the American Red Cross also received funds to help families who have experienced disasters.
Hurricane season is upon us
Hurricane season is here, and Cape Fear Valley Health System has a jump on preparations, thanks to a new emergency water pump system. Costing nearly $380,000, the system went online in late July. It is located on Cape Fear Valley Medical Center’s campus and includes two new water wells and three large storage tanks. The upgrades were paid for by a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation’s Disaster Recovery Program.
“We’re really excited about the new system,” said James Bullard, Cape Fear Valley Health’s emergency management coordinator, “especially since all the water will be potable.”
Cape Fear Valley sought to upgrade its backup water system in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The storm knocked out water pressure to the medical center’s main campus for nearly a week, crippling services to patients. Bottled water was brought in by the truckloads for patients and visitors. The new system pulls water from new wells behind Cape Fear Valley Medical Center at a rate of more than 200 gallons per minute. The water is stored in three large 8,000-gallon storage tanks where it is filtered and treated.