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Sumter's Purple Heart Chapter 817 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart designated Morris College as a Purple Heart College during a ceremony Dec. 3 at the college's O.R. Reuben Chapel.
Chapter Commander Harry Thompson presented Morris College President Leroy Staggers with the official designation which made Morris College the first college in the area to receive this honor in recognition of the college's support of military members, veterans and their families.
"Thank you for designating Morris College a 'Purple Heart College,'" Staggers said at the ceremony. "With the opening of our Veterans Resource Center in August, this designation will certainly enhance our commitment to veterans. We want everyone to know that Morris College is a veteran-friendly institution."
He also said the college is proud to receive the designation and that Purple Heart signs are being installed at entrances to the campus and a reserved parking space has been established for Purple Heart recipients.
Morris College's establishment of its Veterans Resource Center and strong support of education programs for veterans has provided invaluable assistance to veterans in meeting their educational goals.
"Sumter loves its veterans, and we are proud of their graceful service and unselfish sacrifices to their country," Chairman of the Board of Trustees J. David Weeks, D-Sumter, said. "Our aim at Morris College is to strengthen our relationship with our veterans and our military community."
"As a veteran of the United States Army, I am humbled by the occasion," Secretary of the Board of Trustees James B. Blassingame said. "It speaks volumes of the love, respect and appreciation Morris College has for veterans."
Following the presentation, past Chapter Commander Dave Nesbitt explained how the Purple Heart is the nation's oldest award since it was introduced in 1782 by Gen. George Washington as the Badge of Military Merit. The medal was not awarded again until 1932 when the Purple Heart was re-established as a medal for wounded soldiers. Eventually, the medal was authorized for all members of the Armed Forces wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously awarded to the next of kin in the name of those killed in action or who die of wounds received in action.