TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — City leaders honored Purple Heart recipients on Monday with a special flag ceremony at Old Tampa City Hall.
The event fell on National Purple Heart Day, when the nation recognizes the men and women who were killed or injured while defending our freedom, honoring them for their bravery and sacrifices. An estimated 10% of veterans alive today have been seriously injured while serving in the military.
Several of those recipients live in the Tampa Bay area. Bryan Stern is one of them. He survived both tower collapses during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“It’s shaped everything honestly,” Stern said.
He now runs Project Dynamo, where people come together to rescue Americans, including those stuck in Afghanistan.
“And if that means I have to give up a part of my body, I guess that’s what’s going to have to happen.”
State Senator Jay Collins shares the same belief. He doubles as a Florida representative and a two-time Purple Heart recipient.
“I was shot in 2007, got hit by a ricochet, and then I got hit by a mortar a few months later,” Collins said. “I ended up doing a fasciotomy on myself and then I ended up losing my leg due to those injuries.
Collins said he, like many others, would sacrifice his life to protect this country.
“Take time to check on the families of those gone too soon,” Collins said. “Take time to check on your veterans. Take time to make sure they’re ok.”
Collins and Stern joined Mayor Jane Castor and Tampa Councilman Luis Viera at Old Tampa City Hall to pay respects to Purple Heart recipients and their families.
City buildings and the Riverwalk have been lit up in purple over the last few nights to honor them.
The last time to observe this special tribute is Monday, Aug. 7.