Southern Oregon University will become the first Oregon university to adopt the Military Order of the Purple Heart proclamation during a formal ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 27, pledging the university’s support to military veterans and placing SOU on the “Purple Heart Trail.”
The Purple Heart is the United States’ oldest military award that is still issued – awarded to any member of the armed forces who is physically harmed or killed in action. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is a U.S. nonprofit organization made up of military veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart.
“(This proclamation) is a way to show appreciation and support for those who have earned the Purple Heart in service to our country,” said Kevin Stevens, coordinator of SOU’s Veterans Resource Center. “It also correlates with the core values and mission of our university.”
More than 200 SOU students each year are considered military-affiliated. Most of them are veterans or dependents, while many others serve as cadets in the Army ROTC program. SOU also offers a Military Science Program that serves nearly 150 students per term, and various campus organizations are dedicated to helping veterans – including the Veteran’s Resource Center, the Student Veterans Association and the Veterans’ Student Union.
SOU President Linda Schott will sign the proclamation on behalf of the university at 10 a.m. on Nov. 27, in SOU’s Veterans Resource Office – Room 301 of the Stevenson Union. The proclamation encourages SOU students and others to “show their appreciation for the sacrifices the Purple Heart recipients have made in defending our freedoms, to acknowledge their courage, and to show them the honor and support they have earned.”
The proclamation will also induct SOU into the Purple Heart Trail, a symbolic system of roads, highways, monuments and cities that give tribute to those awarded the Purple Heart. These locations have special signage to denote their participation in the trail.
While SOU is the first university in Oregon to make the declaration and become a part of the Purple Heart Trail, the trail includes 21 cities in Oregon, as well as Grant and Jackson counties.
Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer