Seventh Annual Purple Heart Ceremony

Seventh Annual Purple Heart Ceremony

Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776, Military Order of the Purple Heart

On Saturday, February 18th, 2012 I had the great honor of attending the Seventh Annual Purple Heart Ceremony sponsor by Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776, Military Order of the Purple Heart.   The event commemorates the proud legacy of Purple Heart recipients and those fallen Heroes.

Attending this event quickly reminded me how grateful I am for those service men and women, past and  present, that have fallen for the amazing freedom that you and  I have in our great country.  As an elected official, I am only able to provide services because of the services and sacrifices that our military men and women have previously provided for me. The freedom I so greatly enjoy has been paid for by the soldiers who asked nothing in return.  While I grew up in a family of many military service men and women, and I was taught the importance of those that have sacrificed for my freedom, by participating in and observing these patriotic activities has been the best way for me to see and thank these great people first hand for our freedom.

As I first walked up to the Florida National Guard Armory in Crystal River members of “The Patriot Guard Riders” were holding United States, Florida and  P.O.W. flags as they lined the walk leading into the Armory.  Upon entering the large auditorium of the armory, there was an enormous flag of the United States of America.  The event honored many family members of fallen heroes of Citrus County including the families of CWO Aaron A. Weaver, SGT Dennis J. Flanagan, SGT Robert A. Surber, First Class Michael C. Mahr and Sergeant Jonathan K. Peney. The National Anthem was sung  by four wonderful young ladies, Marleigh Miller, Jillian Capps and Madison Carr.  The Nature Coast Young Marines and the Sunshine Art Center Chorale sang a Patriotic Medley and Armed Services Songs.  Phantastic Sounds and Sunshine Art Center Chorale sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” while the entire audience held hands and waved them in the air singing along with the Chorale.  Marileigh Miller, a seven year old student from Forest Ridge Elementary School, sang a heartfelt rendition of Amazing Grace just prior to the benediction and the Citrus Marine Corps League Detachment 819 giving a 21-gun salute and playing Taps.

The Purple Heart

In the thick of the battle, I felt the pain;

I thought to myself, this isn’t a game.

I staggered forward and then fell to the ground;

I tried to holler, but there was barely a sound.

As I lay there, I cried for my mother;

I thought of my dad and my younger brother.

I talked to God and said a prayer,

“Please, somebody help me! Doesn’t anyone care?”

I opened my eyes, and whom did I see,

An angel, a corpsman, who would take care of me.

His hands were gentle; his voice was clear;

“You’ll make it son, for I am here.”

He gave me such comfort that I can never forget;

Even years later I think of him yet.

They put me on a stretcher and carried me away,

Back to the aid station, where the doctor would say,

“You’re badly wounded, and we’ll do our best.”

“We’ll operate on you and then let you rest.”

When I awoke and opened my eyes

I was in a hospital, and was I surprised.

They took care of me so I would get better;

Back at home my parents read the letter.

“Your son is fine, and you’ll see him soon.”

A lot of joy filled up that room.

I knew in my mind that I’d done my part;

I wear on my uniform proudly, my Purple Heart.

 Author: Frank Niader, September 2000

Brother of PVT. William Niader, USMC, KIA on Okinawa, June 12th, 1945, who was awarded the Purple Heart, is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

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