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Newest monument in Papillion's Veterans Park honors Purple Heart recipients

'We figured we’ve got to find a way to honor them.'
Posted at 7:46 PM, Oct 25, 2023

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — In Papillion's Veterans Park — a place where area veterans are honored for their service and sacrifice — sits the city’s newest monument honoring Purple Heart recipients.

Recently, the city created a new monument honoring recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, which is given to those injured or killed in war since World War I. It gave retired city parks department employee Mike Neuzil a deeper sense of pride for the park he cared for for decades.

Before that, he was in the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart for his service. In those days, however, it wasn’t something to brag about.

“As we came home from Vietnam, we took our uniforms and Purple Hearts and put them under our beds,” he said. “We didn't want anything to do with it.”

Over the years, attitudes have changed. Since 2014, there have been monuments in the park that honor veterans of Papillion and Nebraska, still City Mayor David Black said something was missing.

“We realized it’s our wounded warriors who’ve sacrificed the most," said Black. "There’s a number of them in Papillion and so we figured we’ve got to find a way to honor them and that’s where the idea for this monument came from.”

Black said it took at most a year and a half to create the memorial, Neuzil is hopeful it will leave a lasting impact on everyone who sees it.

“Now to have something like this as a tribute to those who did shed their blood is just fantastic, phenomenal,” he said.

As war continues in other parts of the world, Neuzil hopes that others who visit the monument take time to appreciate what it means to those who’ve had to go through combat.

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