ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- The Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Abilene held a naming ceremony Thursday to be officially named the Purple Heart Cemetery.
The Purple Heart Trail is a network of roads, bridges, highways, trails, businesses, colleges, universities, cities, counties, sports teams, airports and buildings that recall all to the public what the medal represents. Mike P. Hernandez, Vietnam Veteran and Texas Veterans Commissioner, told KTAB/KRBC more about the medal.
“You are not looking for him. You don’t want to receive it. It’s something that happens when you’re in combat,” Hernandez said.
The Purple Heart is awarded to servicemen and women wounded or killed in action. While it’s a wonderful acknowledgment of sacrifice, Hernandez said it’s not one you want to win.
“I was hit by a landmine. I lost my right eye and had shrapnel all over my body,” Hernandez said.
Lazaro O. Camarillo III, Vietnam veteran and former commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart of Texas, also shared his story with KTAB/KRBC.
“The first time I was injured was April 5. I have a shotgun right here in the side of my neck. And the second was July 16, 1969,” Camarillo III said. In Napier grass, we got hit by RPG.”
Members of the Purple Heart Trail span the country. It all takes us back to where it all began, in 1992, in George Washington’s former home, Mount Vernon.
The medal itself bears Washington’s face, as he was the first to bestow this honor during the Revolutionary War in 1782. At that time, the heart was a badge of merit. With the establishment 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 who have been wounded or killed in action.
“Having a Purple Heart Cemetery and honoring our veterans who have been injured or lost their lives in combat means a lot to me,” Hernandez said.
Although a great sign of respect, Camarillo said he hadn’t worn his medals for many years. Not before hearing some advice from his father.
“In 1990 when my dad died… He said I know and you know son, you don’t want to wear ribbons or medals. Well, wear them for those you left behind…” Camarillo recalled. “Now I wear it on my truck and on my chest. I do it for them.
A sign designating the cemetery will be placed at the entrance door. A second sign reserving a parking space for Purple Heart recipients will also be placed.
To see what other entities across the country have joined the track, a database of registrants can be found on the Purple Heart website, along with information on how to apply.