RI Veterans: Did You Know? Purple Heart Day EVENT- John A. Cianci

 by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer,

                             Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Did you know – Saturday, August 7, 2021 is National Purple Heart Day?

Did you know the Purple Heart (PH) is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit , which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members – the only earlier award being the obsolete Fidelity Medallion. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York.

Upon being awarded the purple heart it must be approved after documentation of the injury and verification it was a result if enemy fire. The above certificate is one of many awarded to Rhode Island Guardsman activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-2004.  Compliments of SPC Greenhaugh, 119th Military Police Company, one of RI best I was honored to have served with.

Criteria for receiving a Purple Heart: The Purple Heart has a long list of criteria for eligibility — too long to list here. But in general, it may be awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who have been wounded, killed in action, or have died or may die from wounds received in any action against the United States, action with an opposing armed force, the results of any hostile “foreign force” and many other situations where men and women in uniform may find themselves under attack.

Did you know why the Purple Heart is purple? One contemporary interpretation of the color of the Purple Heart is that the color represents the blood of all those who have made sacrifices in war, but traditionally the color is thought to represent the courage of those who serve. The original color of the Badge of Military Merit was purple, so it is logical that when the Purple Heart was created to celebrate George Washington’s bicentennial, the original color of the medal he created would be used to honor his memory.

Did you know that TODAY the State of Rhode Island will be officially dedicating the creation of the RI Purple Heart Trail with 2 events?  Governor Daniel McKee is the Keynote speaker and will formally dedicate the Purple Heart Trail at 12:00 noon, at the Westerly Elks Lodge 678, 1 Dixon St., Westerly.

The Purple Heart Trail, which runs through six Purple Heart Communities – East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Narragansett, Charlestown and Westerly – is sure to grab the attention of locals and tourists alike this summer.

Did you know President John F. Kennedy is the only U.S. president with a Purple Heart? Kennedy, who served in the Navy during World War II, injured his back when a Japanese destroyer collided with his patrol torpedo boat near the Solomon Islands. As his boat sank, Kennedy refused to let his injury stop him from towing a badly burned crew member to safety. Kennedy swam with the man’s life jacket strap clenched between his teeth for three miles before reaching an island and bringing the man safely to shore.


To access Cianci’s past columns, go to:


John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.