Disney Cast Member Awarded Purple Heart at EPCOT

Phil Wood

Two military personnel in uniform stand in a formal setting. One is holding a framed certificate, and they are standing in front of a banner with "Portraits of Courage" text.

Disney Cast Member Awarded Purple Heart at EPCOT

U.S. Army veteran and current Disney Cast Member John Arant was presented with the Purple Heart Medal at EPCOT.

Disney Cast Member Awarded Purple Heart

Two uniformed military personnel hold a certificate while standing in front of a flag-draped display. Portraits and American flags are seen in the background, reminiscent of the honor shared by a Purple Heart recipient.

John Arant received the Purple Heart Medal at the American Adventure Pavilion in EPCOT before the park opened on Wednesday, June 26. Surrounded by the “Portraits of Courage” exhibit, Arant was honored with America’s oldest military medal for injuries he sustained during active service with the U.S. Army in 2007.

Arant’s ceremony was held before his family and other Disney Cast Members, including military veterans. He received the Purple Heart Medal from Jenn O’Rourke, a fellow Cast Member who serves as a Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

A military officer, adorned with a Purple Heart, stands and speaks to a seated audience inside a hall decorated with flags and patriotic banners.

During the ceremony, a flag was flown over EPCOT in Arant’s honor. Arant was then presented with notes of gratitude from former President George W. Bush, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, and Chairman of Disney Experiences, Josh D’Amaro.

Arant joined The Walt Disney Company in 2019 as part of Heroes Work Here, an initiative dedicated to supporting and hiring military veterans. He is now senior manager of casting services.

Upon receiving the Purple Heart Medal, Arant had the following to say:

Receiving the Purple Heart is a tremendous honor, and I am humbled that my service is being recognized in such a meaningful way. I could not be prouder to be a cast member because Disney ensured this medal was awarded in a fitting ceremony in front of family, friends, and other cast members. Disney’s commitment to our military, veterans, and their families has been strong for over 100 years and today is another great example of just that.

A Purple Heart medal with a ribbon bar, reminiscent of bravery and honor, is displayed in an open presentation box on a table, much like a cherished memory at EPCOT.

The Purple Heart was established by George Washington in 1782. The award was initially intended to recognize the heroic acts of soldiers during the American Revolution. Today, the medal is awarded to those who have been wounded or killed in the line of duty.

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