Memorial Day 2021: remembering the reason for the day

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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NORFOLK, N.Y. (WWNY) - Even as the pandemic eases, some Memorial Day events are still on hold.

Many families of the men and women who served, and died, on behalf of the country will find their own way to note the day.

Don Purvis, brother of Norfolk’s Bernard “Butch” Purvis is remembering a brother who died at the age of 20, just as his tour of duty in Vietnam was to end.

“Butch didn’t make it. It was on his last day in Vietnam. And he got caught in a small arms fire. Butch got hit,” Don Puvis recalled Friday.

Butch Purvis earned four purple hearts in all – in less than one year in Vietnam. The fourth was for when he was killed in action.

Years later, the Purvis family learned the stories behind all Butch’s medals. They came from squad mates: Butch fighting on, wounded; Butch taking gunfire, protecting a medic and wounded soldier.

They showed us a picture. Butch is on the left and squad leader Danny May on the right.

“They depended on each other. And they did. They took care of each other,” Don Purvis said.

There’s a painted portrait of Butch which hangs in his mother’s home. Childhood friend Mike Spotswood was also a Marine, saw the portrait - and was moved.

“It’s a moving experience. I think for everybody that knew him,” Spotswood said.

Spotswood produces a radio show specifically for vets, “Cup of Joe Radio.” He encouraged Purvis to tell his brother’s story.

Don Purvis and other vets say the same thing - it’s not just about one hero. It’s about everyone who served and sacrificed.

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