Three Rivers designates parking spots for Purple Heart recipients
Norwich – Three Rivers Community College unveiled two parking spots, freshly painted purple, near the main entrance on campus Monday – making it the first college in the state to designate parking spots for Purple Heart recipients.
Two current students and a faculty member have been awarded the medal. They were not at the brief ceremony unveiling the spots Monday, and did not want their names publicized.
The Purple Heart, one of the oldest and most renowned military medals, is awarded to service members who were killed or wounded by enemy action. The medal was established by the Army in 1932, initially to recognize "meritorious action."
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor estimates that 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have greatly increased the number of service members receiving the award, and the potential conditions for receiving the award: a purple heart-shaped medal with bronze border and George Washington's coat of arms between two green spray leaves.
A local organization started by a Three Rivers graduate and Purple Heart recipient Brent Walker donated the signage for the newly designated parking spots. Walker is the CEO and founder of Guardians of the Purple Heart, which assists and raises awareness about Purple Heart recipients in Connecticut.
Walker graduated from Three Rivers in 2014 with an associate's degree in business administration and management. He said the group is always looking to identify Purple Heart recipients living in the state.
"As an alum, as a Purple Heart recipient, it's amazing to come back to my alma mater and see this," Walker said.
If someone wrongly parks in the spot, instead of a parking violation, they will be given a sheet explaining the Purple Heart and the eligibility for parking there.
Veterans make up 8 percent of the student body at Three Rivers, which is about 4,000. The college recently became an officially associated chapter of the Veteran Students of America, a coalition of student-veteran groups on college campuses that help vets succeed in higher education.