They touted his war record as a non-commissioned officer in Vietnam, where he earned a Purple Heart.
A Vietnam Purple Heart, he would in retrospect have engaged with the Viet Cong.
The case for Hagel is that he is a combat veteran who won a Purple Heart while serving in Vietnam.
He received a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars for his service in World War II.
His father, James, Sr., received a Purple Heart during World War II and worked as a mason and then as a high-school custodian.
But the Purple Heart has been denied the soldiers who were killed or wounded at Fort Hood.
The son of a maid, he went to work at age 8, won a Purple Heart in Korea, and rose through the Harlem Democratic machine.
Purple Heart Homes, co-founded by a local Iraq War double leg amputee, has accepted her request for housing assistance.
No one ever seeks a Purple Heart medal, but it remains the most distinctive of American military medals and symbols.
Some wood-paths are found sprinkled with dog-violets, saxifrage, and with Purple Heart's-ease.