Freedom Fighters: The American Freedom Museum - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: The American Freedom Museum

(KLTV) -

The Purple Heart is our nation's oldest military medal. It is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded or killed in action.

"It's such a big honor for us to be able to be that kind of visual reminder to people," said museum director Jan Hommel.

The American Freedom Museum on the Brook Hill School campus in Bullard has been designated as a Purple Heart Museum on the National Purple Heart Trail. Throughout the museum are reminders of the sacrifices made by our military to preserve our freedom.

"We go through all the conflicts in America's fight for freedom, so it starts with the Revolutionary War and it goes all the way through the war on terror," Hommel said.

The most devastating result of war is the pain and suffering it brings, and that's where the Purple Heart, our nation's oldest military medal, comes in. Hommel says, like the history covered in the museum, the Purple Heart goes as far back as George Washington.

"George Washington actually created the Badge of Military Merit back in 1782 and then it was redesigned in 1932 by General Douglas MacArthur in 1932," she said.

Although the Purple heart, or any other medal, can't ease the pain of wounds or the suffering over the loss of a loved one, it's our nation's way of honoring those who are wounded or killed in action.

"This one we have here was actually from a 21-year-old aerial gunner from Ohio that was in the Battle of Bougainville in World War Two," Hommel said.

The Freedom Museum's designation as a "Purple Heart Museum" is a source of pride to those who understand the significance of the medal.

Nick Sciarrini, a member of the military unit of the Purple Heart, presented the designation to the museum.

"The military unit of the Purple Heart is a national organization chartered by Congress," he said.

Sciarrini, who was a medic in Vietnam and wounded twice in battle, insists his sacrifice was minor compared to others.

"There's a number of people I served with that had five Purple Hearts and they were still on active duty," he said. "There are a lot of people active today in all the services: Army, Navy, the Air Force, Marines that have Purple Hearts today."

But there are also many who were killed in action, never to return home. Their Purple Hearts were awarded to their families. 

The purpose of the Purple Heart Trail is to give tribute to the men and women who have been awarded Purple Heart medals and to serve as a visual reminder of their sacrifice.

The American Freedom Museum in Bullard is open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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