At the December 10th Soldotna City Council meeting members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) that included 93-year-old Soldotna resident Bill Fields, who fought on Okinawa in WWII, presented a plaque of appreciation to the City of Soldotna for their assistance in making the memorial that now stands at Soldotna Creek Park a reality. Vietnam veteran Nick Nelson MOPH Region 111 Commander told the Dispatch in an interview, “For several years I’ve wanted to get a Purple Heart Monument here in Soldotna but our MOPH Chapter did not have the funds. About eight years ago the Dept. of AK. MOPH dedicated a Memorial at the Park Strip in Anch. Since then I knew I wanted one here because we have visitors and vets that come here from all over so I talked to the members of my Chapter and they all agreed but it came down to the funding. After talking personally to different people in the community, they were all for it and wanted to know how they could help. The cost of the Memorial was well over $7,500 plus freight. Our Chapter # 830 received over $8500.00 in donations from the Veterans of Foreign wars Post 10046, Soldotna Elks, AK. State Elks Assoc. and others. I went to the City of Soldotna and first talked to the City Manager and then the mayor. They were great, the mayor at the time was Peter Micciche and he thought it was a good idea, especially in honoring our wounded who received the Purple Heart. The City provided land at the Soldotna Creek Park and when the Monument arrived, the personnel at the City Shop did a great job in placing it and the Parks and Rec. Dept. crew did the landscaping. We came here tonight to express our appreciation to everyone who made this possible. It is a wonderful tribute to our Purple Heart Veterans,” said Nelson.
City Manager Mark Dixon responded, “The City of Soldotna is pleased to have been designated by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as a Purple Heart City. The designation came at the right time as Soldotna Creek Park renovation was just starting so we were able to incorporate the Purple Heart Memorial into the design and have it visible all year long to everyone who visits the park for fun and recreation, not just at the memorial park during special occasions.” All hoped that the words carved in stone on the memorial would be read and taken to heart by all who visit the monument, especially at this time of year when the hope for peace is celebrated around the world. The monument reads: “My stone is red for the blood they shed. The medal I bear is my country’s way to show they care. If I could be seen by all mankind, maybe peace will come in my lifetime.” A public dedication of the monument is being planned for next year according to Nelson.