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The Military Order of the Purple Heart

Wandotte’s Purple Heart Memorial Garden has received the highest award possible from a state organization that promotes beautification projects across Michigan.


Natalie Rankine, Wyandotte's Downtown Development Authority director, Mayor Joseph Peterson and David Polczynski of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 127 Downriver were amongst many at the 2010 unveiling ceremony of the Purple Heart Memorial Garden. Credit: City of Wyandotte


Natalie Rankine, director of Wyandotte’s Downtown Development Authority, recently received the 2011 Keep Michigan Beautiful Award.

The group hands out four levels of awards–the President’s plaque, the Michigan plaque, the Distinguished Service plaque and the Award of Merit.

Rankine, a licensed architect, received the gold-tier President’s Plaque for the Purple Heart Memorial Garden, which she designed and raised $250,000 for as a volunteer before being hired by the city.

After being hired, she managed the construction of the project and coordinated its dedication ceremony, which took place on Memorial Day in 2010.

The refurbished bronzed Purple Heart statue sits near Biddle and Superior. It was originally dedicated by then-Michigan Gov. Harry Kelly in 1943 during World War II. The statue features a U.S. soldier caring for a wounded comrade.

Wyandotte was the first city in the country to which the National Military Order of the Purple Heart commissioned and donated a monument of this type.

While the state awarded Rankine for the project, she praised the assistance of David Polczynski, who helped on behalf of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 127 Downriver.

“This man is unstoppable,” Rankine said. “We’re going to have a monument on every corner in Wyandotte real soon.”

Polczynski said people are always telling him that “your city is really patriotic.”

“I can’t thank everybody enough for what they did for that monument,” he said.

The plaque is on display on the second floor of City Hall.


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