City to honor veterans with ‘Purple Heart’

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 29, 2015


ST. CLAIR SHORES — With the month of May celebrating both the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and Memorial Day, along with the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade, it seems fitting that another military honor be bestowed on the city this month.

St. Clair Shores will officially become a Purple Heart City — in recognition of its large population of highly decorated veterans, including many recipients of Purple Heart medals — during a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. May 12 at Veterans Memorial Park, on Jefferson Avenue at Masonic Boulevard.

Parade Committee Chairwoman Cheryl Furdos said this year’s grand marshal, Dennis Houser, is a Purple Heart recipient and helped her work with the local chapter of the Purple Heart to make this happen.

“It means that ... this city is aware of its veterans, and we do have a huge veteran population,” Furdos said. “We honor our veterans.”

Now, too, St. Clair Shores will become part of the national Purple Heart Trail.

“We’d like as many people as possible to be there,” Furdos said, “for them to know that the city has recognized their efforts and sacrifices.”

She said they’re hoping as many Purple Heart recipients and combat veterans as possible can come out to the ceremony.

“It’s the first military honor that the city has had,” she said.

Houser was wounded in Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day of 1966. He spent the next eight or 10 months recovering in a hospital and was discharged from the military after that.

He said he wishes more people honored veterans wounded in combat and thinks this is the right step for St. Clair Shores.

“It’s like the city itself is honoring all wounded veterans that have Purple Hearts,” he said.

The city of Warren was named a Purple Heart City in August 2014, and the city of Mount Clemens also received the distinction this year. Houser said a commander in Chapter 1818 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, of which he is a member, is trying to get the state of Michigan designated as a Purple Heart State, as well.

“We’re just trying to make everybody aware of it,” Houser said.

The city will receive and raise a Purple Heart flag and post a plaque at the park to spread the news about the honor.

Mayor Kip Walby said he’s happy that St. Clair Shores will be part of “this great organization.”

“It goes along with our great parade (and) the VFW Post, which has been so much a part” of the city, he said. “All of that just makes it great to be part of the Purple Heart organization.”

Houser said it’s his mission to help veterans in any way possible.

“We keep on dying off faster than the World War II veterans now, the Vietnam veterans,” he said.

Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness need support and assistance, he said.

“That does not make them a bad person; that just makes them an unfortunate person. There’s different circumstances,” he said.

“It’s doing things for veterans that’s my mission. Sometimes our country gets a little backwards here when it comes to veterans.”