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ATLANTA — A simple act from each of the incorporated cities and villages in Logan County has instilled a sense of pride for Logan County veterans, said the executive director of the Logan County Economic Development Partnership.

All 11 government entities, including the Logan County Board, have approved a Purple Heart Community Proclamation, becoming the first county in the nation to have each one pass such a declaration.

“I don’t think it is as important to us that we are the first county in the nation to have all of its towns to pass such a proclamation, but what is important is that we make Logan County as veteran-friendly as possible and I think this goes a long way in saying that,” said Bill Thomas, executive director of the LCEDP.

The Military Order of The Purple Heart Chapter 159, based in Logan County, recognized each of the 11 cities and villages during a ceremony in June. In addition to Logan County, also honored were the cities of Atlanta, Lincoln and Mount Pulaski, plus the villages of Broadwell, Elkhart, Emden, Hartsburg, Latham, Middletown, New Holland and San Jose.

Veteran’s advocate Joe Schaler helped lead the effort to have all 11 entities involved.

“I would like to thank the soldiers for their sacrifices and all the cities and villages becoming Purple Heart communities is a tribute to our veterans,” he said. "I am very proud of this county in the way they honor veterans. When we first started this project, I didn't know if it was something we could get done or not and we didn't do it just to be the first, we did it because we are proud."

The state of Illinois has passed a similar proclamation to denote Illinois as a Purple Heart State.

“It gives us and it gives veterans a sense of pride and all of us who care about this county want people to come here and start businesses,” Thomas said. “We have always had a lot of pride for our veterans and this just is another example of that.”

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in present use and was initially created as the Badge of Merit by General George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782. It was the first American service award or decoration made available to the common soldier and is specifically awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been wounded or to the next of kin in the event of death.

Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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Staff Writer for The Pantagraph.

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