Purple Heart Tribute

The Purple Heart Stamp was issued for the first time Friday, a tribute to the sacrifices of many veterans who were wounded or killed in service to the United States. Members of Mississippi's Military Order of the Purple Heart attended the ceremony in Meridian.

"We remember the ones that don't come back. There were 87 percent casualties in my section," said veteran Henry Kirkwood, a recipient of the Purple Heart, who describes himself as lucky.

Talking about it is hard for some. In addition to being a decorated Purple Heart veteran, Benny Duett also works for the Postal Service.

"In my mind, it's not the people that came back. It's the actual people that died in service. And that's what I think of," Duett said as he choked back tears.

"The cost of the stamp is only 37 cents, but the price they paid is much greater than that," said Meridian postmaster Danny Swancey.

Frances Knight's husband is a twice-decorated Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran.

"Our freedoms are bought with the blood of these men. Our freedom to love them, they paid for with their blood," said Knight, president of the state Ladies' Auxiliary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart was the first medal given to the so-called common soldier, established by Gen. George Washington in 1782.

"When you depend on someone for your life and they're gone, you remember that for the rest of your life," said Ken Storms, retired career Navy pilot.

The Purple Heart Stamp is part of a series this year celebrating the people, events, and history of our nation.