LITTLE VALLEY – Over recent years, several New York State counties have taken the time to honor veterans who have received the Purple Heart, which is given to those wounded in action during a time of war.
Cattaraugus County will be the next upstate county to offer the distinction, after members of the County Legislature’s Public Works Committee approved the measure Wednesday.
Signs honoring about 268 recipients of the medal will be placed along the major routes into the county, Public Works Commissioner Joseph Pillittere, said.
Cattaraugus is looking to be the ninth county in the state to honor Purple Heart recipients and veterans. Currently, Putnam, Herkimer, Rockland, Dutchess, Westchester, Greene and Orange counties and Staten Island have established the designation.
The effort to place these signs will not have an impact on the county budget, Pillittere said, since the entire process will be done in-house.
The signs, designed by Crystal Gross in the county Engineering Department, will be made in the county sign shop and put in place by county work crews.
The signs will be purple rectangles with Cattaraugus County in white, arched at the top and “A Purple Heart County” written along the bottom. In the center will be a large image of the Purple Heart medal, flanked to the left by the State of New York with Cattaraugus County highlighted. To the right will be the county seal.
No names will be included in the signs, Pillittere said.
According to Cattaraugus County Veterans Affairs information, 7,400 veterans live in the county.
The Purple Heart, which was created and first awarded by George Washington in 1782, originally was called the Badge of Military Merit.
Though many more than the 268 known county residents may have been awarded the honor, the number represents those who have registered with the county VA office, Pillittere said.
Cattaraugus County was looking to be the first upstate county to establish the designation, but it was beaten out by Herkimer County, which passed a resolution and unveiled signs Jan. 6.
The program started March 30, 2013, with Putnam County, in the lower Hudson Valley region, which is home to the United States Military Academy.
“I think this is a wonderful idea, and a great way to honor those that have served with valor,” said Legislator John Padlo, D-Olean.
He also raised the potential of doing something to honor Gold Star Mothers, as well as others associated with veterans groups.
With unanimous committee approval, the process of creating and placing the signs will begin. Plans for an unveiling ceremony with Purple Heart winners, as well as other veterans, are in the works, according to Pillittere.