March 19, 2017 - Ralph Waara
The Cotillion Dance Club was sadden by the passing of two time Purple Heart recipient Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Waara at the age of 89. Ralph is survived by his wife Brenda. Ralph and Brenda were long time members of the Cotillion.  They both seemed to really enjoy our dinner dances and they really enjoyed dancing and fellowship with other likeminded members. They haven't been able to attend our dances for about a year due to Ralph's health. We appreciate and honor Ralph's service to America on the battlefield and here at home. Thanks, Ralph, we will miss you and the example your life has been to us.

In memory of Ralph Waara: Patriot:
Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Waara paused each time he heard about another wounded soldier or Marine in Iraq. Waara knew each one would soon share an honor linking them with 1.5 million other U.S. service personnel — the Purple Heart medal. Some of those returning home with the U.S. military’s oldest medal will be Arizonans, living and dead. The Purple Heart is among America’s best-known symbols of military courage and sacrifice. But Waara wanted Arizona to take a special step to call attention to its meaning. "The timing would be perfect", said the 75-year-old (Ralph's age in 2003) Waara, who earned two Purple Hearts in 1971 with the tank-heavy 3rd Infantry Division in Vietnam. "We’ll have a lot of new Purple Heart recipients coming home from Iraq, and our hope is to have this designation in place in time to welcome them and recognize their sacrifices," Waara said. 

Waara, a Sun Lakes resident, lead the campaign to designate Interstate 40 across northern Arizona as the Purple Heart Trail. The state designation was part of a greater effort to stretch the trail across the nation. In 2003, after six years of work the state legislators endorsed House Joint Resolution 2001 titled "The Military Order of the Purple Heart".  The House Joint Resolution 2001 provides funds for signage and designation of Interstate 40 as the Purple Heart Trail to promote patriotism, history and education among the people of the state.  The resolution reads, The State of Arizona and the other states in the union, by likewise designating portions of their highways, have established the Purple Heart Trail as a nationwide tribute to the millions of purple heart recipients who have courageously and selflessly defended this nation in times of war.

Many of the Cotillion Club members travel the highways of our state. When you see the sign shown above let us remember Ralph, and his love of country.  In the photo below of Ralph and Brenda entering the Cotillion Black and White Ball in January of 2016, I am moved by the way his arm holds Brenda. It makes me 'feel safe' each time I look at it. 

(byline: Rob Spade)