The Milwaukee County War Memorial Center hosted two back-to-back events for veterans, commemorating Purple Heart Day on August 7 and celebrating the 4th annual VetFest on August 8.

The Purple Heart medal is the oldest American decoration for military merit. August 7 was designed as Purple Heart Day in 1932, to encourage people to pay respects to fallen soldiers, and to thank them for their service to the nation.

Wisconsin was previously been declared a Purple Heart State, a designation that offered medal recipients special benefits in recognition. Last year, both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County declared Purple Heart status in official declarations.

VetFest continues to be one of the most public opportunities where Milwaukee residents can “thank a veteran.” The family-friendly event held along the Lakefront on August 8 offered many activities for kids and adults, from an obstacle course to a postcard writing station for sending messages to active duty service members.

“The retail vendor area is a popular attraction, where all our veterans who make crafts sell artwork. It’s a chance for the public to support their creative work and talk with the artists,“ said Jennifer Wallner, one of the organizers of VetFest.

The Milwaukee Brewers Famous Racing Sausages were also on hand, along with several musical performances, and rescue training exercise by the U.S. Coast Guard. Two World War II veterans were featured to talk about their wartime experiences.