Bellingham Is Officially Named a Purple Heart TownAug 27, 2020 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
Shown above (L-R): Six Purple Heart recipients—Chuck Cleaves Sr., Jim Hastings, Patrick Pisani, Paul Thibault, Joseph Oulette, and Brian Willette—stand in front of the War Memorial on the Town Common to celebrate the official dedication of Bellingham as a Purple Heart Town.
Last year, Jim Hastings, a Bellingham Purple Heart recipient, decided to look into what is required for a town to become a Purple Heart town. The process then having been successfully completed, the designation was made and the ceremony on National Purple Heart Day, Friday, August 7, at the war memorial on the Bellingham Town Common, Rt. 140, made it official.
A Purple Heart is given to members of the United States Armed Forces who have been wounded, or awarded posthumously to loved ones in remembrance of a relative killed in the line of duty.
This year, Bellingham became one of about 116 towns in Massachusetts to be designated a Purple Heart town. Five Purple Heart Veterans were in attendance at the ceremony: Jim Hastings, Chuck Cleaves Sr., Paul Thibault, Patrick Pisani, and Joseph Oulette.
The ceremony opened with a prayer from Bellingham Fire Chaplain Rick Marcoux; then Jim Hastings spoke about the process of Bellingham’s becoming a Purple Heart town.
Next, Senator Fatmann and Representative Soter thanked the Veterans for their service and sacrifice. Senator Fatmann told a fantastic story about his grandfather who was a Purple Heart recipient and read a proclamation from the State House. They were followed by Brian Willette, Massachusetts State Commander of The Military Order of the Purple Heart; Willette spoke about the history of the Purple Heart medal and also shared a story about General Douglas MacArthur, who was the first in modern times to receive the medal.
Brian Willette then dedicated a new Purple Heart sign at the town common, which was then uncovered by the five Purple Heart Veterans. Pastor Baron Rodrigues closed the ceremony with prayer.
In addition to the sign at the common, there are five other locations that indicate that Bellingham is a Purple Heart town. Signs can be seen at the Bellingham-Medway line on Rte. 126, at the Bellingham-Blackstone line on Rte. 126, at the Bellingham-Mendon line on Rte. 140, at the Bellingham-Franklin line on Rte. 140, and on Rte. 126 opposite the Rte. 495 exit on the north side.
written by Eli Sylvia, Contributing Writer