US

'Purple Heart Village’ label for NY town draws ire of antiwar activists

Some residents of Hastings-on-Hudson are objecting to being designated a “Purple Heart Village.”

Although the village in Westchester County, New York, has fewer than 8,000 residents, it has a large VFW hall, multiple monuments to service members, and even a downtown street renamed Veterans Way, according to CBS 2. Antiwar activists, however, claim the language in the proposed signs actually glorifies what they call unjust wars — such as a reference to soldiers “defending the United States of America” and “for the good and protection of all Americans.”

“The issue is essentially, how can we support the warrior and not support the war?” said Frank Brodhead of Concerned Families of Westchester.

“If you think of the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia or Syria, none of these wars have anything to do with protecting us,” Brodhead said.

Hastings-on-Hudson Mayor Peter Swiderski now is trying to redo the language. But the revision and approval did not happen in time for Memorial Day celebrations this weekend.

“We granted a delay so everybody could weigh in more fully,”
Swiderski said.

The postponement angered veterans, who noted that they – and not taxpayers – paid for the signs. “It’s totally frustrating, because we had the signs ready to go,” said Hastings VFW Post Commander Richard Pecci.

Pecci, a Vietnam veteran, is the commander of the local American Legion post who suggested the Purple Heart designation that 19 other communities in Westchester – and the county itself – already have.

“This is not about war. This is about the veterans that served this country,” Pecci said. “They fought, they sacrificed their lives for freedom.”