John Arant Receives Purple Heart

Purple Heart Awarded to Disney Cast Member at EPCOT’s America Pavilion

A special ceremony was held at the America Pavilion in EPCOT last week. During this, a Disney cast member was awarded with the Purple Heart. The cast member was U.S. Army veteran  John Arant, senior manager of casting services. He was given America’s oldest military award in the rotunda of the American Adventure Pavilion at EPCOT. He was honored for his military valor and the injuries he sustained during active service with the U.S. Army in Mosul, Iraq in 2007. 

The Purple Heart is America’s oldest military award. Established by General George Washington in 1782, it was created to recognize heroic acts of soldiers during the American Revolution. The medal is now awarded in the name of the President of the United States to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in the line of duty.

The Purple Heart ceremony was held with an audience of family and fellow Disney cast members in attendance. They were joined by military veterans as well. During the ceremony, John wore his Army service dress uniform to receive the Purple Heart from fellow cast member Jenn O’Rourke, a business transformation manager with Disney institute who also continues to serve in uniform as a Major in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

The ceremony also included a special opportunity to present a flag that was flown over EPCOT in honor of John. He was also given special notes of gratitude for John’s military service from former President George W. Bush, Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger and Chairman of Disney Experiences, Josh D’Amaro.  

“Receiving the Purple Heart is a tremendous honor, and I am humbled that my service is being recognized in such a meaningful way,” said John. “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.”  

The recognition that John received was made even more poignant by the fact that he was surrounded by the Portraits of Courage. This is the current exhibit at the America pavilion and includes over 60 paintings that were created by President George W. Bush to recognize post-9/11 military veterans.

John during his deployment to Iraq with the First Cavalry Division in 2007.

John was in the U.S. Army for nearly seven years as an active service member. In 2019, he joined The Walt Disney Company as part of the Heroes Work Here initiative. This is a company-wide initiative that strives to hire, train, and support military veterans.

Disney shared its gratitude to both John for his heroic service and also his family. Disney also salutes all veterans who have selflessly served their country and those who continue to serve.