HARKER HEIGHTS — Thursday was a day to honor those who have “given all.”

Area residents and officials joined Central Texas’ Chapter 1876 Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Ladies Auxiliary to commemorate Purple Heart Day, which is observed Aug. 7.

Killeen resident Sgt. Donald Clark, with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is a Purple Heart recipient and member of the local chapter who attended the ceremony.

Clark, who earned his Purple Heart after serving in Iraq in 2011, said it’s important to honor those who have given the “ultimate sacrifice.”

Harker Heights resident Nichole Broemer, who attended the observance, said her father is an Army veteran.

“I came out with my nephew to support our veterans,” Broemer said.

Her nephew, 11-year-old Damian Hampton, also has a father serving in the military.

The history of the Purple Heart and Purple Heart Day was told Thursday to educate young individuals about the importance of those who made sacrifices before them, said Marty Martinez, a local Military Order of the Purple Heart member and retired Army veteran.

The Purple Heart was established Aug. 7, 1782, by Gen. George Washington to honor troops in the Revolutionary War, Martinez said.

Washington gave an order allowing service members who performed a singular meritorious action to wear the figure of a heart in purple cloth with a silk edged or narrow lace to wear over their left breast, he said.

“At that time, they called it the badge of merit,” Martinez said.

After the Revolutionary War, the merit was forgotten about until Washington’s bicentennial, he said.

On Feb. 22, 1932, Gen. Douglas MacArthur re-established the merit with the Purple Heart Medal. In 1943, it was established for every military branch and later for those who received wounds or were killed in action during service, Martinez said.

Harker Heights Mayor Rob Robinson read a proclamation Thursday to honor those who have earned the Purple Heart. Earl Williams, commander of Chapter 1876 Military Order of the Purple Heart, read a proclamation from Gov. Rick Perry.

Contact Rachael Riley at rriley@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7553

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