It was a special day for the town of Fairhaven on Sunday when select board members decided to recognize it as a Purple Heart Town. Residents gathered to honor local veterans of combat and to unveil the new Purple Heart Town signs that will be displayed in Fairhaven.

What Is a Purple Heart Town?

In 2019, Governor Charlie Baker declared the state of Massachusetts a Purple Heart State. A Purple Heart is a “solemn distinction and means a service member has greatly sacrificed themselves, or the paid the ultimate price, while in the line of duty.” To be considered a Purple Heart Town, a ceremonial designation must be approved by select board members to honor members of the armed services who have been killed or wounded in action. Fairhaven resident Kathy Lopes took the initiative to get her hometown officially recognized.

“She saw it in other towns, so she came to me with the idea, and I thought it was a great idea,” said Brad Fish, Veterans Service Officer of Fairhaven. Lopes wanted to hold a ceremony for the Purple Heart recipients that reside in town, as well as honoring other residents that have served. Lopes and Fish brought their idea to the select board to recognize Fairhaven as a Purple Heart Town, and it passed unanimously.

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Fairhaven Recognizes Purple Heart Recipients

In front of a group of townspeople on Sunday, exactly two years after Gov. Baker declared Massachusetts a Purple Heart State, Fish spoke on behalf of Fairhaven recipients to give them the good news about their hometown. Among the honorees were four Marines from the New Bedford Marine Corps League; the Viera family; Donald Tucker sharing his brother Francis Tucker's Purple Heart medal and photo of him; and Frank Faria. Lisa Rodrigues was also there to honor her late son Matthew who was killed in Afghanistan, and her husband who was a Purple Heart recipient as well.

Courtesy of Kathy Lopes
Courtesy of Kathy Lopes

Fish took the time to recognize other Fairhaven residents that served, touching upon each war over the years, from WWII to Afghanistan, and was honored to be a part of the special moment.

“It was a great feeling being able to dedicate this to some of our men and women in uniformed,” Fish said.

Fairhaven Purple Heart Town Signs Erected

Six signs are now proudly displayed throughout town, donated to the town by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Fairhaven Purple Heart recipients will forever be honored by the kind gesture and initiative of Kathy Lopes and the select board that allowed it to happen.

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