Sheriff's Office affiliated with Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office today became the first law enforcement in the state and nation to become an official Purple Heart Law Enforcement Agency.

Ceremonies were observed today at the CCSO's Emergency Operations Center in Lecanto by Sheriff Jeff Dawsy and members of Citrus County's Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) and special guests.

Two World War II veterans were also in attendance, as well as Nancy and Mike Weaver and family members of other Purple Heart recipients, including the Lapinskys, the Flannigans and the Serbers.

Addressing those at the ceremony, Sheriff Dawsy said, "We were very honored when we were approached and asked whether or not we wanted to be part of the Purple Heart Family. We (are) an auxiliary member, and I believe the first law enforcement agency in America that will be designated as a Purple Heart member of this great organization."

Today's ceremonies coincided with National Purple Heart Day, Dawsy noted, in honor of those who received this highest military honor. On August 7, 1782, Dawsy said, George Washington created the purple heart medal, called the Military Badge of Merit, to present to soldiers for "any singularly meritorious action".

The badge permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge and the honoree's name and regiment were also to be inscribed in a "Book of Merit."

Bud Allen, Commander of the Aaron Weaver Unit 776 Military Order of the Purple Heart of Citrus County, address edthose assembled and gave a few remarks about the Purple Heart and today's ceremony.

"Today, there are more than 500,000 living Purple Heart recipients, with approximately 150 residing in Citrus County," Allen said. "Designation as a Purple Heart law enforcement agency is reserved for those agencies that have exhibited noteworthy patriotic support of our nation's armed forces and those veterans."

In addition, Allen said, the CCSO's well-earned reputation as a disciplined, physically tough organization dedicated to serving the Citrus County community, Chapter 776 and the Department of Florida Military Order of the Purple Heart made it a privilege to recognize the Citrus County Sheriff's Office as the first law enforcement agency in Florida and the nation.

Dawsy read a CCSO proclamation in honor of the occasion to those assembled.

"Whereas the Purple Heart, originally known as the Military Badge of Merit was first established by General Orders of General George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782, and is the oldest military decoration in the world in present use;

"And whereas the Purple Heart was the first American service award made available to the common soldier and is awarded to any member of the United States Armed Services wounded or killed in combat with a declared enemy of the United States;

"And whereas the mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart chartered by an act of Congress for combat-wounded veterans is to foster an environment of good will among the combat-wounded veteran members and their families to promote patriotism, to support related legislative initiatives and, most importantly, to make sure we never forget the sacrifices made by those so decorated;

"And whereas there have been residents who have made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in the cause of freedom and those combat-wounded veterans who currently reside here and as Purple Heart awardees who contribute to their community in countless ways;

"And whereas Inverness, Florida falls within the purview of  Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and wishes to pledge its (solid) support for this noble organization and for those who put their lives at risk in service to their country and their fellow citizens;

"Now, therefore I, Jeffrey Dawsy, Sheriff of Citrus County, do hereby declare Aug. 7, 2014 as the Citrus County Sheriff's Office being recognized as the Purple Heart Law Enforcement Agency."

There are two copies of the proclamation which will be on display; one will remain at the Sheriff's Emergency Operations Center in Lecanto and the other at the Sheriff's Office's headquarters in Inverness. The Purple Heart flag will also fly in both locations.

The flag that flies with each proclamation features an embroidered Purple Heart Medal and also has the words, "Honoring America's Wounded Veterans."