Efforts have been made to secure that Purple Heart for Charlie, but what has been gleaned from his story is that government red tape trumps even Purple Hearts due to the men and women who serve this country. These are people who became blind or disabled just because the enemy saw them as Americans, and that was all the excuse they needed to drop bombs on them, fire shots at them, bury land mines beneath the ground where they would walk and fire torpedoes and depth charges on ships and submarines bearing the American flag.
People like Charlie could be said to be having “Purple Heart attacks” because of the frustration and the long wait they have had for something due them that most Americans fortunately never qualify to have.
While Charlie Burks did his part to secure justice for all during the Great War and during the great years that followed it when civil rights led Martin Luther King to the same area of the country where Charlie served, the nation isn’t doing its part to secure the justice that Charlie deserves — a Purple Heart. Because he fought for our liberty, the federal government shouldn’t take liberty of its responsibility to recognize those who have represented this country in combat and had a brush with death or gone days and weeks without knowing if they would live or die.
For justice to be done in his case, it’s time for federal officials to do what it takes to make a Purple Heart a reality for Charlie. The time to honor him is now.
Of course, the wheels of government don’t move that fast, but it would be appropriate for Indiana’s congressional delegation to set Memorial Day as a goal for honoring a man who deserves to be honored at a time when the United States is losing scores of World War II vets every day. If the federal government doesn’t act, then we’ve lost sight of what the price of “liberty and justice for all” really was.