The Purple Heart, created by General George Washington on August 7, 1782, and first known as the Badge of Military Merit, is one of the most respected and well-recognized medals one can receive. On Purple Heart Day, we’re called to remember and celebrate America’s wartime heroes who have been injured or killed while serving our country.
For the first time, I’m holding a Purple Heart Day event through our Operation Outdoor Freedom program in Lake Wales, Florida.
Purple Heart recipients and their families will enjoy barbecue and airboat and swamp buggy rides at no cost, thanks to the generosity of our private donors who make Operation Outdoor Freedom possible. The event will be held at Camp Prairie, a first-of-its-kind camp that has bunkhouses and every other feature anyone could possibly need to enjoy an overnight stay in the wilderness.
Since 2011, Operation Outdoor Freedom has provided more than 3,000 wounded veterans with healing and uplifting events that could only happen in Florida’s great outdoors alongside others with similar experiences. Some of the best therapy comes from kayaking down the Chipola River, gator hunting in Ocklawaha or reeling in a redfish along the coast. Having joined some of these trips, the stories that unfold among veterans around a crackling campfire under Spanish moss-draped Live Oaks are once-in-a-lifetime moments that will forever be cherished.
This Purple Heart Day, let’s all be grateful for those who have sacrificed their safety and lives for our freedom. While Operation Outdoor Freedom is only one small way we can give back to those who have given so much for us, these experiences can last a lifetime.
Adam Putnam is the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.