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ELIZABETH, NJ—January 20, 2015— On Monday, January 19, 2015, Congressman Albio Sires and Councilman-at-Large Manny Grova, Jr. presented City of Elizabeth resident George Cygan with a replacement Purple Heart medal for his courage and service in World War II.  They were joined by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Councilman Kevin Kiniery, Councilman William Gallman, Jr., Elizabeth Board of Education Commissioner Maria Carvalho and the Elizabeth Honor Guard. 
“George Cygan’s decorated military career includes six honors; which recognize his valor, commitment to excellence and dedication to placing service above all else. It is because of his, as well as all our veterans' efforts and sacrifices, that we continue to enjoy the freedom and liberty we treasure so dearly,” said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “Our appreciation can never fully be expressed through words, but to Mr. Cygan and every American, who has worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces we simply say - thank you.”
The Purple Heart was instituted in 1782 by George Washington and is the first American decoration. Originally it was awarded for bravery in action; however currently it is awarded to those wounded or killed in action, in the latter case posthumously. An Oak Leaf Cluster is added when a previously wounded person already has a Purple Heart. The decoration is a purple, heart-shaped badge with bronze edges. It depicts in relief a bust of George Washington wearing the uniform of a general in the Continental Army. On the reverse side is the inscription: "For Military Merit" with the recipient's name below.
Ninety-Four year old George Cygan, who was a member of the 28th Infantry Division in World War II, was active in the military for three years. During this time he served as a Cotton Ringer Operator and was awarded four Bronze Service Stars, a Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart Medal. During this time Mr. Cygan was not only missing for sixteen days, but was also wounded in Luxembourg in 1944. 
In recent years the Purple Heart, which he was given, was found to be missing. Due to the valiant efforts of Congressman Albio Sires and Councilman-At-Large Manny Grova, Jr., another Purple Heart was able to be obtained and presented to Mr. Cygan. 
“I was honored to join Councilman Grova in presenting Elizabeth resident George Cygan with the Purple Heart, which he was awarded for his service in the US Army during WWII," said Congressman Sires. “Today, let us pause to recognize George and all of our nation's brave military personnel that served not only in WWII, but all of our nation's conflicts.”
The 28th Infantry Division transferred overseas to the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) on October 8, 1943. Following additional training in Southampton, England, the 28th Infantry Division landed in Normandy, France, on July 22, 1944. Immediately, they entered the fighting in the hedgerows near St. Lo. 
Following the Normandy Breakout, the 28th Infantry paraded through Paris on August 29, 1944 and began driving toward Germany via Luxembourg and by November 2nd, entered the Huertgen Forest. The 28th Division got caught in the Battle of the Bulge and endured many casualties. By early January 1945, they had moved to defensive positions along the Meuse River. By February, they were back on the offensive.
“It was wonderful to be able to return what so rightfully belonged to Mr. Cygan,” said Councilman-At-Large Manny Grova, Jr. “As long as there are men and women willing to serve and protect, we will always be here to support and honor their service. On behalf of the citizens of Elizabeth, I applaud Mr. Cygan's outstanding contributions to our nation and wish him continued success."