The Sandhills community will come together to recognize Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star mothers and the Families of those killed in action.
Recognition will be given at a Sandhills Purple Heart Dinner, Aug. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Charlie Rose Agri-Expo Center. Tickets are $25.
The Purple Heart is awarded to those wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. military and was established by George Washington in 1782 as the Badge of Military Merit.
The dinner will be a first of its kind in Cumberland County, said Michael Johnson, chair of the Sandhills Purple Heart Dinner. Previous dinners have been held in Wake Forest, Winston Salem, Goldsboro, Wilmington, Charlotte and New Bern, North Carolina.
“It’s a humbling experience because there are so many Purple Heart recipients and military Families. It’s an honor to be able to do this for Fayetteville,” said Johnson, who expects 1,000 to 1,200 persons to attend.
The dinner will feature a Walk of Honor instead of a guest speaker. Robert Patterson, a Medal of Honor recipient for actions in the Vietnam, is scheduled to attend. The MoH is the highest military decoration that may be awarded.
“Every Purple Heart recipient will walk through a saber salute, and as they walk through, we announce their name, where they served and where they got their Purple Heart,” Johnson said. “We really need the community to step up and show their support to our military heroes.”
So far, more than 180 volunteers have stepped forward to provide services such as escorting attendees to their table and pouring coffee and drinks.
One of the volunteers is Sgt. Jason Cairl, a culinary specialist with the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, who will complete an ice sculpture for the event. The sculpture will feature an image of the Purple Heart minus the purple field within a block of ice with especial detail to the coat of arms and the profile of Washington.
Cairl said it was important to volunteer for the dinner.
“I have a great deal of respect for anyone who has faced an armed adversary, whether they were injured or not,” Cairl said. “They’re the ones who do the job that we are all trained for ... they actually faced an enemy.”
Because of the number of volunteers, no more are needed, but sponsorships remain available, said Johnson.
Sponsorship levels include: Red, $100; White, $250, Blue, $500; Home of the Free, $1,000 and Because of the Brave, $2,500. For more information about sponsorship, email Johnson at johnsonmichael5@frontier.com.
Wal-Mart is a grand sponsor and is paying for all the honorees and two guests Additional sponsorship funds will go toward military personnel and those persons who cannot afford tickets.
To be recognized as an honoree, visit www.sandhillsphdinner.com/phgsm-rsvp/. Tickets may be purchased online at www.sandhillsphdinner.com/purchase-tickets/, in person at the Crown Coliseum or through the coliseum website at www.crowncomplexnc.com/ for an additional service charge.
According to its website, the first Purple Heart Dinner was organized in Wake Forest nine years ago.
Event attire is formal. The Crown is located at 1960 Coliseum Drive, Fayetteville.
Johnson encourages attendance.
“It’s one of the most humbling, rewarding experiences you will ever have — to see and hear about these military heroes,” he said. “Everybody has a cause they support, but everyone has come together for this. This is a great event.”