Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility'I like to give back': Purple Heart veteran on coordinating cleanup of national memorials | WLUK
Close Alert

'I like to give back': Purple Heart veteran on coordinating cleanup of national memorials


Ahead of Memorial Day 2023, 7News honors a Purple Heart veteran who went from serving overseas to now working with National Park Service in D.C. (7News)
Ahead of Memorial Day 2023, 7News honors a Purple Heart veteran who went from serving overseas to now working with National Park Service in D.C. (7News)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble
0

A typical day for Park Ranger James Pierce includes being surrounded by groups of volunteers, teaching them how to keep the National Mall looking beautiful.

Five days a week, he’s working with different groups doing a little bit of everything as a volunteer coordinator.

“We plant flowers, put down mulch, and we pick up trash,” described Pierce.

On weekends, you’ll often find him wall-washing at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, Korean War Veteran’s Memorial, or the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.

“The mission with the Park Service is very similar to the United States Army is that we have a mission,” said Pierce. “I like being outside. I like working outdoors. but more importantly, I like to give back to this great nation.”

Pierce has been serving this country since enlisting in the North Carolina National Guard at 18 years old. He’s deployed three times. Iraq in 2005, a humanitarian mission to El Salvador in 2011, and Afghanistan in 2012.

SEE ALSO | 'This is their Mecca': Md. Army veteran on his role in creating Vietnam Veterans Memorial

“In Afghanistan, it was very difficult,” remembered Pierce. “I lost three of my teammates, and I'm one of three survivors. I was hit by suicide bomber in Afghanistan.”

The Purple Heart veteran medically retired in 2015, but he never stopped serving.

“I'm standing on the shoulders of all the fallen service members,” said Pierce. “Especially when you're washing the Vietnam wall, and you're reaching your handout, you can see your reflection, but also the gravity of the situation of where you're at and what you're doing and what it means.”

He’ll often share his story with the volunteers he works with.

“Go to the war memorials and reflect of what the cost of war is,” said Pierce. “Freedom is not free, and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice to enjoy the land that we love so much.”

This land he’ll keep protecting, just in a different uniform.

Comment bubble
JOIN THE CONVERSATION (
0
)

“We keep it beautiful for everyone to include our veterans,” said Pierce.

Loading ...