Remembering the sacrifice

Tim May was wounded in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. He and nine other Purple Heart recipients are featured in public service announcements that will play on Jumbotrons in NFL stadiums this season. /Photo: Cory Grau

Visit an NFL stadium on Veterans Day weekend and you might see Mt. Lebanon High School graduate and rifle team captain Tim May, Foxland Drive, on the Jumbotron.

May, a former marine corporal, is one of 10 Purple Heart recipients showcased in Remember the Sacrifice, a video produced by Pittsburgh-based agency Blink. The National Flag Foundation partnered with the Military Order of the Purple Heart to create 30-second and 15-second public service announcements to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Purple Heart, the U.S. military’s oldest decoration.

Using portrait photography, intercut with full-screen combat footage and still photos of Purple Heart recipients and their medals, the videos are voiced by CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz.

According to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, at least 1.8 million of the medals have been awarded since its re-establishment in 1932. /Photo: Carrie Moniot

May served six and a half years in the Marine Corps. Three years into his tour of duty, he was sent to Afghanistan and suffered six herniated discs and two fractured vertebrae after being wounded by an IED blast on his first mission. He still managed to finish his deployment and spent a total of seven and a half months in Afghanistan.

May is back home now, studying computer information systems at Community College of Allegheny County. “It’s good to be back in Mt. Lebanon,” he said, “where everything seems very familiar.”

May received a Purple Heart at the time of his wounding.

The Purple Heart, originally called the Badge of Military Merit, traces back to George Washington, who created it to recognize meritorious service in combat, but soon fell into disuse. In 1932, on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the medal was re-established as an award for  military men and women who were wounded or killed in combat or by an act of international terrorism.

“You don’t think you earned it. You don’t think you deserve it,” according to May. “I never believed a day in my life that I’d have one.”

The Military Order of the Purple Heart organization was created to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat wounded veterans, promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives, and most importantly, provide service to all veterans and their families.

The Pittsburgh-based National Flag Foundation was founded to honor and respect the United States flag.

“I know all of us on the Blink team were honored to play a role in this National Flag Foundation production,” said Mark Fallone, Blink’s vice president of production.

Over the years, Fallone has worked on several projects with Flag Foundation Chair Romel Nicholas. “All of us at Blink were proud and humble to be a part of Romel’s Purple Heart project and the 240th anniversary of the Purple Heart award,” he said. “When we learned heralded sportscaster Jim Nantz would perform the voiceover, the entire project took on an electric, major league vibe,” he added.

A post commander with the Veterans of Foreign Wars encouraged May to apply for the recognition. Soon afterwards, he found out his application was approved.

During the recording of the “Remember the Sacrifice” video at WPXI-TV’s Studio, May was asked to reflect on what the flag means to him. “Our flag means everything to me.  Our freedom, our liberty, how we were able to overcome so many things throughout our history.”