A new memorial to recipients of the Purple Heart medal opened Sunday in the collection of military monuments operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
The official dedication took place on national Purple Heart Day in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery.
The memorial honors all Illinois recipients of the medal, which is awarded to military personnel killed or wounded in combat.
The memorial was built by the Hayes-Krell Memorial Chapter 159 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with assistance from Staab Monument Co., Massie Massie Landscape Architects and Siciliano Inc.
It was then turned over to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, along with an endowment to support its upkeep in years ahead. The Purple Heart Memorial stands amid state-operated monuments honoring the men and women who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
“We hope this memorial reminds the people of Illinois of the tremendous sacrifices made by military personnel in all conflicts. We owe them a huge debt,” said Heidi Brown-McCreery, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. “Our thanks go out to the Military Order of the Purple Heart and to the businesses who made this memorial possible.”
Oak Ridge Cemetery, location of the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site, receives more visitors each year than any other cemetery except Arlington National Cemetery.
The Purple Heart is America’s oldest military award, tracing its roots back to medals authorized by Gen. George Washington in 1782. Nearly two million have been awarded since World War I.
The memorial is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. IHPA protects the state’s historic resources, which contribute to education, culture and the economy. IHPA sites include ancient burial mounds, forts and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.