From Big Red Country to the Jewelry Capital of the World, North Attleborough has received many monikers throughout its history.
Now, it’s joined several other communities as a Purple Heart town.
A special ceremony was held on Nov. 3 to unveil a sign on Kelley Boulevard that recognizes soldiers who have received Purple Hearts, a military decoration is awarded to those wounded or killed in service. The Town Council officially declared North Attleborough a Purple Heart community by a resolution passed in August.
Assistant Town Manager Antonio Moribito, Town Council Vice President John Simmons, Veterans Agent Stephen Travers and other town officials attended the ceremony. Travers said the towns of Plainville and Wrentham were also designated Purple Heart towns through a proclamation he received from the national nonprofit, the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
The origins of the Purple Heart trace back to 1782 when it was known as the Badge of Military Merit. Established by George Washington, the badge was given to soldiers who exhibited courage in battle. The medal was made out of purple silk with a heart shape. It was presented to three sergeants in Washington’s army but discontinued after those three men received the honor.
In 1932, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur revived the Badge of Military Merit and renamed it the Purple Heart. About 78,000 badges would be awarded to soldiers who fought in the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I.
The purpose of establishing Purple Heart communities is to recognize those who have received the honor and create a trail throughout the United States that connects each town and city to one another. According to Travers, at least 77 deceased soldiers from North Attleborough have received Purple Hearts, and many of the town’s veterans who are alive today have received the honor.
“It’s an opportunity to show great respect for our veterans,” he said.
Many residents of North Attleborough appreciated the gesture and said it was heartening to see the town recognize veterans. Bryan Harris, a veteran, said he hoped that more resources could be allocated to help veterans now that the town is recognized as a Purple Heart community.
“I think it’s a great idea and hopefully being a Purple Heart town will bring much-needed aid to soldiers in need,” Harris said. “I’m fortunately not a Purple Heart recipient, but I know many who are struggling.”
Rodney Armand agreed with Harris and added that honoring those who sacrificed to protect the country from foreign and domestic threats gives residents a sense of pride.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Armand said. “The fact that the town is now a Purple Heart town gives me a sense of pride in choosing to live here.”