DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BRPROUD) — The Denham Springs and Walker communities came together to celebrate the brave soldiers who fought and were wounded while serving our country.

“Today, was about paying tribute and bringing our cities and communities together and allowing our students to be a part of it,” said State Representative Buddy Mincey.

They recognized some of the Livingston Parish Purple Heart recipients and their families.

Purple Heart recipients

“The ceremony itself is absolutely gorgeous,” expressed Denham Springs Mayor, Gerard Landry. “George Washington started this [the Purple Heart award] 240 years ago. That’s hard to believe, but we need to remember it. We need to live it. We need to thank all of our veterans every time we talk to them and their families that support them.”

Purple Heart recipient Richard O’Brien said the ceremony meant a great deal to him.

“The thing about Purple Heart is you carry these things all of your life,” O’Brien said. “I am appreciative I have it, but this is the only medal you don’t want to receive. If you receive it, you fall into that category that the country honors and you have to live up to it.”

O’Brien said while he was serving in the United States Navy, his river patrol boat was hit by a rocket.

“It was terrible,” he said. “I spent 13 months in a hospital. When I came out, it was really different. We didn’t have any parades. The country didn’t feel the same way about veterans as they do now. So it took a long time and I carried a lot of bitterness.”

But now, he boldly sits beside his others and sisters in arms as the two cities celebrate them.

“I’m really proud of our veterans. Only 1% of our population serves in the military. Anyone who puts that uniform on, as far as I’m concerned, they honored their country,” he expressed.

The cities of Walker and Denham Springs were also recently declared Purple Heart cities.

“It just really means that when we are officially saying that we respect all of our veterans. We ask all of our citizens to remember that because it can be easily forgotten,” said Landry.

In honor of this proclamation, brand new signs were designed by Denham Springs High School and Walker High students, one being Walker Senior Alexandra Polk.

“Well, our teacher told us, we were going to do a design for the Purple Heart,” said Polk. “We didn’t really know what it was about. The teacher explained it to us, and then once we got working on it, it was a little nerve-wracking, but we got to finish it and it turned out amazing. It was really fun throughout the whole process.”

There were three designs picked. Two from Walker and one from Denham Springs.

“Our sign will probably go right outside of City Hall,” said Mayor Landry.

City leaders said it will be a reminder that there’s no need to wait on Veterans and Memorial Day because every day is a time to honor our soldiers.