Two Arkansans Soldiers Awarded Purple Hearts

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Wednesday’s Purple Heart ceremony an honor, six years in the making. And something that many people at the capitol on Wednesday say was only possible because of the passion of one victim’s father.

“That’s cool dad.”

That’s how Daris Long imagines his son, Private William Andy Long would react, upon learning he earned a Purple Heart. Those are also the very last words Andy told his dad, the night before he was killed.

“There is no closure. That’s a room that I can’t go back into,” says Daris.

Private Long, was shot in a 2009 attack on a Little Rock army recruitment center by a self-proclaimed terrorist. Private Quinton Ezeagwula, was also shot but survived.

Both soldiers were awarded with the Purple Heart at the state capitol on Wednesday.

Long and Ezeagwula, at first denied the honor because they were not shot while in combat, overseas. But after years of lobbying by Long’s father, plus help from Arkansas elected officials Congress changed those requirements.

“A tenth of my life been doing this. It’s had its peaks and valleys. This is a peak,” Daris says.

Daris Long, also was instrumental in getting “Andy’s Law” passed here in 2013. It allows for terror attack victims like Ezeagwula, and Long’s family to recover damages.

It also makes it easier for law enforcement to seize money that funds terrorism.

“It’s not just Andy, it’s now everyone forward from now,” says Daris.

“It’s just overwhelming,” says Private Ezeagwula.

Private Wzeagwula, is humbled by this award. But says he thinks his fallen colleague deserves it more than he does, “He took the ultimate sacrifice. So I want to thank him too.”

Mr. Long, Andy’s father, says his next step is to keep pushing for anti-terrorism laws in other states. Private Ezeagwula says his goal is to just stay focused on moving on with his life.

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