BAY PINES, Fla. (FOX 13) - Wednesday morning in Pinellas County, wounded warriors were honored as part of National Purple Heart Day.
Pinellas County commissioners dedicated a monument in War Veterans Memorial Park to all men and women wounded or killed in action. Two Purple Heart recipients reflected on why the day was an emotional one.
"It shows respect for us and I appreciate it!" said Robert Graves, a wounded veteran of the Vietnam War.
"69 of us went, all 69 of us was wounded," he said.
When he returned home – opposition and protests over the Vietnam War made life difficult.
"We was spit on, made fun of," he recalled, adding, "Stuff likes this helps."
Some of his wounds are visible, and some invisible. He works with the VA nearly every day still recovering.
He says it is hard to believe a monument can make such a difference.
"It is totally beautiful and it shows respect for us wounded veterans!"
And respect is something Mal Clingan has certainly earned.
"I came out to tend to the soldier, a mortar came in behind me and blew me up," he remembered.
He is another Purple Heart recipient who was moved Wednesday.
"Immensely satisfying, very much so, now you're going to get me tearing up again," he said.
It is hard to believe a fancy stone is making these warriors emotional, but it proves a simple ‘thank you for your service' can go a long way.
The monument comes after Pinellas County was officially designated a Purple Heart county in 2017 in recognition of the county's service to veterans, active-duty military, and their families.