State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Why August 7?
Under state law, every August 7 is designated as Purple Heart Day. Wisconsin State Statutes s. 14.16 (11) says:
"The governor shall annually proclaim August 7 as Purple Heart Day and urge the people and organizations of the state to display the American flag on that day as a public expression of the recognition of those individuals who have been wounded or killed in action preserving the freedoms that all United States citizens cherish.”
General George Washington liked to reward soldiers of outstanding valor with a commission or rank promotion until he was ordered to stop in 1782 by the Continental Congress for economic reasons. Washington wanted another means of bestowing a special honor upon his men and came up with it, described in his written General Order issued on August 7, 1782:
"The General, ever desirous to cherish virtuous ambition in his soldiers as well as foster and encourage every species of military merit, directs that whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings, over his left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding. Not only instances of unusual gallantry but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way shall meet with due reward... The name and regiment of the persons so certified are to be enrolled in a Book of Merit which shall be kept in the orderly room...”
General Douglas MacArthur came up with the idea of reviving Washington’s medal and the War Department unveiled the new award on February 22, 1932, in honor of Washington’s Bicentennial. The oldest military honor, the Purple Heart is awarded today for being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act by any such enemy or enemy forces. President Kennedy took action to expand the award to any civilian national of the United States, and President Reagan extended eligibility to those wounded in international terrorist attacks.
Originally designed by Washington as a cloth medal, the Purple Heart today shows a heart stamped from bronze, plated with gold, hanging from a purple and white ribbon.
On May 26, 2004, two of my constituents in Senate District 28 were presented the Purple Heart by Governor Jim Doyle: Susan Sonnheim of Franklin and Troy Tuschel of Hales Corners.
Sgt. Susan K. Sonnheim was injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated while she was on patrol in Baghdad Sept. 23, 2003. She was the first female soldier in the history of the Wisconsin National Guard to be awarded a Purple Heart.
Parade marshal Sgt. Susan Sonnheim waves to the crowd during Franklin's 2008 Fourth of July parade
Sgt. Troy J. Tuschel was wounded by an IED in Baghdad Oct. 15, 2003.
Journal/Sentinel photo taken by Tuschel family
Troy Tuschel next to a Humvee in Iraq, where he was deployed with his unit in March 2003.
The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel printed amazing stories about both of these Purple Heart recipients. Read about Sonnheim and Tuschel.
Read more about the Purple Heart here.
Remember, August 7 is Purple Heart Day in Wisconsin. God bless our Purple Heart recipients and all our brave men and women in the Armed Forces!