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Purple Heart resolution gains House's approval

Several House members got emotional Thursday over military heroes and medals.

Rep. Steve Barth, D-Salt Lake, wants to send a resolution to President Clinton urging him to give Purple Heart medals to men and women who were injured by the chemical Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.Barth has an uncle who is suffering from the affects of the deadly plant-killer. He says such injured veterans should be awarded a medal normally reserved for battlefield injuries "because the agent was only used in the front lines, in the face of the enemy and (those injured by it) were in harm's way."

Rep. David Hogue, R-Riverton, gave a compelling speech against the resolution. He said when he was 14 his mother opened a small box and showed him a Purple Heart. "It was the only medal my father, who was killed in World War II, ever got." Hogue said he served two tours of duty in Vietnam, one in 1963 another in 1967.

He was sprayed by Agent Orange, he said. And he was offered the Purple Heart but declined the honor. For that day that he lay with shrapnel in his leg, "people were dying all around me" and to accept a medal in light of their sacrifices "would have been wrong."

The resolution, which is not a law, only a suggestion, passed 52-15.