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Reading's Purple Heart Trail dedicated during Veterans Day ceremony

Reading Eagle - 11/11/2022

Nov. 11—The new Purple Heart Trail in Reading, which runs from the city's gateway to Veterans Grove in City Park, was dedicated Friday during the Veterans Day ceremony for Berks County.

A Purple Heart monument was completed in August in Veterans Grove, and the trail dedication was the second phase of that tribute to all of America's servicemen and women who earned the medal for being wounded or killed in combat.

Purple Heart banners were recently placed on the route from the Penn Street Bridge along Penn, 11th and Washington streets to the park on Constitution Boulevard.

And despite the rain Friday, close to 200 turned out for the annual Veterans Day ceremony organized by the Combined Veterans Council of Berks County.

Floyd Turner, a Navy veteran and head of the Berks History Center, said the new monument and trail are a fitting way to pay respect to those injured and killed in battle.

"We reserve a special place in our hearts for those who bear the scars of their service," he said.

And those tributes, along with the Veterans Day service, are also important as we look ahead, he said.

"We memorialize and celebrate the past to express our gratitude, cultivate wisdom, and to reveal to everyone who and what we are in the hope that we can inspire the future," he said.

Quoting President John F. Kennedy, he said, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."

Keynote speaker Dale Derr, an Air Force veteran and former Berks County Veterans Affairs Director, spoke about the history of the Purple Heart, which is America's oldest military award, dating back to 1782.

The medal's criteria were revised in 1932, and since then about 1.9 million Americans have received it, including numerous Berks veterans.

The trail, he said, will help ensure they are long remembered.

A number of city, county and state officials also spoke during the ceremony, including county Commissioner Christian Leinbach, who compared Memorial Day and Veterans Day. He pointed out that those honored on both days signed the same contract in which they agreed to give their lives in defense of their nation if necessary.

"We stand here today to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts," he said.

Turner spoke about how every generation of America has stepped up to protect the country.

"Millions of Americans have answered our nation's call to serve," he said. "The freedom we enjoy is the result of nearly 250 years of service and sacrifice on the part of our veterans."

That sacrifice is something all Americans should appreciate, he said.

"If you have any doubt about that, I can show you plenty of examples in Indiantown Gap National Cemetery," he said.


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