Military Order of the Purple Heart Senior Vice Commander Earl Williams addresses students, staff members and guests of Richard E. Cavazos Elementary School Monday during a ceremony to designate the KISD school a Purple Heart School, the second elementary school in Texas to receive the honor.

Todd Martin | KISD

NOLANVILLE — A Killeen ISD school already identified with distinguished military service is the second elementary school in Texas tied to a military decoration that dates to George Washington.

Richard E. Cavazos Elementary School in Nolanville is a Purple Heart School.

Military Order of the Purple Heart Senior Vice Commander Earl Williams joined Cavazos Principal Joseph Gullekson and KISD Superintendent John Craft in a ceremony at the front of the school Monday to sign official documents.

The designation, said Williams, seemed natural, set in a community heavy with Purple Heart recipients on a campus named for a four-star general officer.

The state-level vice commander addressed school staff and guests on either side of the school entrance, but focused much of his attention on the students seated in front of the school building.

“You are our future,” he said to students. “You will run our country. This is about teaching you what it means to be patriotic.”

A large Purple Heart emblem now occupies a primary spot on the school building near the front entrance.

Words will soon accompany the emblem identifying the school’s connection to the Purple Heart.

Following the ceremony, Williams said it was important to attach the elite service designation at an elementary school to teach the youngest students about sacrifice.

“These students know the sacrifice the military makes,” he said. “Their parents made a sacrifice and we want to educate them and let them know we appreciate what their parents have done.”

“It’s a great honor to General Cavazos and all the Purple Heart recipients in this area,” Gullekson said. “We will build a strong partnership and build awareness of the Purple Heart. This is something to teach future generations.”

The elementary school opened in 2009 named for retired Gen. Richard E. Cavazos, the first Hispanic to reach the rank of general in the U.S. Army.

His service spanned 33 years. He was a company commander in the Korean War and a battalion commander in the Vietnam War. He was assigned commander of Fort Hood in 1980. His numerous decorations include the Purple Heart.

Established in 1782 by George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, the Purple Heart is awarded to military personnel wounded or killed in action. The distinctive medal bears Washington’s profile.

The Purple Heart Trail includes Interstate Highway 35. Purple Heart organizations include Central Texas College, the Texas A&M University system and Belton ISD’s New Tech High.

The only other elementary school that bears the Purple Heart identification is in El Paso.

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