(PUEBLO WEST, Colo.) – A ceremony in Pueblo West revealed a brand new roadside sign recognizing the district’s status as a Purple Heart Community.

Over 50 people showed up at the Pueblo West VFW Post 5812 for the unveiling of the Purple Heart Community sign. The Pueblo West Metro District board of directors proclaimed the district a Purple Heart Community in 2019.

“One of the things that were missing about that [proclamation] was being able to put up a sign on the roadside, as they do in many other communities, just to let everybody know how important veterans are for us,” said Anthony Sandstrom, the Pueblo West Metro District communications manager.

The Purple Heart is a distinguished military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those injured or killed in combat.

Purple Heart recipients spoke before the crowd, which included many veterans, veteran biker groups, and active military. Pueblo West Purple Heart recipient Charlie Keen said it was an honor to speak in front of fellow veterans.

Prior to his speech, in which he went through the history of the Purple Heart, Keen debated giving his personal account of how he received his. He decided not to because it was too much to relive that experience.

“Receiving the Purple Heart is unfortunate…When I received my Purple Heart, I lived. But, during that day, another man, his name was Toms James Bradley, died from his wounds during that mortar attack,” said Keen, who said many Purple Heart recipients don’t live to see the honor.

A Purple Heart Community is one that honors and remembers the military service members who have been wounded or killed.

“With this sign…and Pueblo West recognizing the Purple Heart, it means a lot not only to me but all of those people that earned the Purple Heart,” said Keen.

One in ten community members in Pueblo West is a veteran.

“Being able just to put up a roadside sign in front of the VFW, where a lot of veterans are present, it just reaffirms Pueblo West’s commitment and thanks to our area residents that are veterans,” said Sandstrom.