Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin dedicates Purple Heart Park

Dunedin will officially unveil this Purple Heart monument in a ceremony today.

Special to the Times

Dunedin will officially unveil this Purple Heart monument in a ceremony today.

DUNEDIN — Vietnam veteran Danny Sowder has two Purple Hearts.

One for the wounds he suffered in 1968 after a buried explosive device blew him 30 feet into the air, the other for shrapnel wounds he received while under attack in 1969.

The lavender medals remind the 64-year-old Dunedin resident of the sacrifices he and other war veterans have made.

Now, a park will, too.

A special ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. today, National Purple Heart Day, in which Sowder, commander of the JFK Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Dunedin, will help dedicate a small park in the heart of downtown.

The site, at the northeast corner of Main Street and Broadway, will be known as Purple Heart Park.

"It's a great location, easy to find, and a suitable size for what we are trying to accomplish," Sowder said. "Hopefully, it will promote business and tourism for the city. There are a lot of Purple Heart veterans out there."

The medal is given to any member of the Armed Forces who has been wounded or killed in action.

Purple Heart Park has been a labor of love for Sowder, a former letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service who retired after suffering a stroke on Christmas Eve 2006. He brought together a variety of veterans groups who, with the help of city staff members, have managed to raise more than $11,000 for a monument, commemorative bricks and improvements to the park.

As part of today's ceremony, a new monument will be unveiled.

His efforts also led to Dunedin's distinction of becoming the first Purple Heart City, a designation bestowed in 2006 by the national Military Order of the Purple Heart.

"My hope is to get at least one Purple Heart City in every state," Sowder said.

Sowder first approached City Commissioner Dave Eggers two years ago with his ideas to make Dunedin the first Purple Heart City. Enthused, Eggers helped him bring the proposal before the City Commission, which embraced the idea along with a future monument.

A Purple Heart Task Force suggested the piece of land, donated recently to the city by businessman Joe Kokolakis, as the ideal setting for the memorial and park.

Eggers and others agreed.

"It's a wonderful and proper way to show respect," Eggers said. "We felt like it was our way of saying thank you to those who got in harm's way and were injured in a small, large or final way."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at

>>Fast facts

Dedication of Dunedin's Purple Heart Park

When: 10 a.m. today.

Where: The park is at Main Street and Broadway in downtown Dunedin.

The memorial: Commemorative bricks can be purchased and engraved in memory or in honor of Purple Heart recipients. Cost is $100.

Details: Call (727) 298-3010 or visit

Dunedin dedicates Purple Heart Park 08/06/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2008 8:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  4. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  5. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement


    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)