On Feb. 27, Delaware officially will become a Purple Heart City.

On Feb. 27, Delaware officially will become a Purple Heart City.

Representatives of the Military Order of the Purple Heart will present a proclamation at 7 p.m. in city council chambers.

"Our Purple Hearts City program is a fairly new phenomenon," said John Bircher, spokesman for MOPH. "I think Delaware will be only the third or fourth city in Ohio to receive the designation."

The Military Order of the Purple Heart was founded in 1932 by Gen. Douglas MacArthur "for the protection and mutual interest of all combat-wounded veterans and active duty men and women who have received the decoration."

Purple Heart recipient and Delaware resident Bob Burr will receive the proclamation on behalf of Delaware Chapter 148 of MOPH.

"I was wounded at Heartbreak Ridge in Korea," said Burr, commander of Chapter 148. "There were only a handful of us left by the time we got to the top, and we were pretty tired puppies by the time we got to the top of that thing."

Burr said three of the 16 soldiers in his combined squads died on the way up and the remaining 13 soldiers were all injured. Clint Eastwood memorialized the battle in his 1986 movie, "Heartbreak Ridge."

"I was lucky I lived through it," he said.

Burr speaks of his experiences in a matter-of-fact voice and saves his awe for the accomplishments of others.

"A Purple Heart isn't nearly enough to honor what those Marines did at the Chosin Reservoir," he said of the Korean War battle.

The proclamation is a way to remind the city, Burr said, "of the sacrifices so many soldiers made in the service of their country, and to remind everyone that we have men and women still in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Bircher said more than 1.7 million soldiers have received the Purple Heart.

"Half of those died on the battlefield and the other half were wounded," he said. "It's the only medal that's an entitlement. You don't get it for valor or for meritorious service. You get it by being wounded by the enemy. It stands as a symbol of your willingness to give your life for your country."

Lee Yoakum, Delaware community affairs coordinator, said Mayor Gary Milner and the members of city council were looking forward to the proclamation ceremony.

"Delaware is a very patriotic city and it is appropriate to honor those individuals who gave their lives and shed their blood in defense of our country," he said. "We are honored to be known as a Purple Heart City."

Burr said soldiers don't always talk about their experiences and civilians don't always understand them when they do.

"I had one guy at work tell me, 'What are you complaining for? They paid you, didn't they?'"

That's the sort of comment that makes Bircher, an otherwise calm and pleasant man, bristle.

"It's not a job," he said emphatically. "I mean, if it's a job, then the cost of doing your job is a hell of a lot more expensive than getting your pay docked or getting fired."

Burr said he hopes the ceremony on Monday will encourage other Delaware Purple Heart recipients to contact Chapter 148.

For more information about MOPH and its work on behalf of wounded veterans, visit www.purpleheart.org.