JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In the military, it's the combat decoration anyone can earn, but no one wants to accept - the Purple Heart.
This spring, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill declaring August 7 each year to be recognized as Florida Purple Heart Day.
And on Tuesday, Jacksonville's Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services Division, along with military officials, veterans, and family members honored Purple Heart recipients on Purple Heart Day in front of the Veterans Memorial Wall.
Mattie Brown could not have been happier to sit in the audience and watch her son standing up front.
"It's a big honor. It's a big honor to know that he's still alive," she said.
Lee Brown III, a Senior Vice Commander, is what you'd call a survivor.
"I was injured in 1986 as a result of a Libyan terrorist bombing," he explained.
Brown is one of an estimated 1.7 million recipients of the Purple Heart, a medal awarded to members of the Armed Forces who are wounded or killed in action.
To some, the honor is a painful reminder.
"It's always emotional to stand here. I'm here, my friends are on the wall," said Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam War veteran Tony Daleo.
Those who gathered hung their heads, bowed in honor and in prayer. It was a group united by heartbreak, but bound by the honor that the Purple Heart brings.
"Vets come home and we never know what we're coming home to. It's not the same world that we left. But with the support of friends and family, we're always able to get through it," said Brown.
Following the ceremony, those in attendance walked the ceremonial Purple Heart trail. It's a quarter-mile walk that begins at the Veterans Memorial Wall and ends at the Veterans Memorial Arena.